Rangers center Ryan Strome gets emotional discussing future
It was a hard day for Ryan Strome and many members of the New York Rangers as they all embark on their separate ways this summer.
The hurt mostly comes from falling two wins short of reaching the Stanley Cup Final. That had many of them talking about “unfinished business.” However, for some of them this could be the last time they wear the Broadway Blue. And while it remains to be seen who might get traded, others that are going to be unrestricted free agents (UFA) have a cloud of uncertainty following them.
“Most of my 20’s have been here, it’s like I’m an adopted New Yorker,” Strome choked up discussing his pending UFA status. “Obviously my heart’s here. The last four years I’ve tried to pour everything into this thing on and off the ice. I can’t predict the future but all I know is I love these guys and this team is destined for great things. It’s a little emotional. Honestly, it’s a great group of guys and I hope there’s more.”
Ryan Strome wants to stay with New York Rangers
Strome, 28, had a solid season with the Rangers picking up 21 goals and 54 points in 74 regular-season games. In the postseason, he added another 9 points in 19 contests.
Since joining the team in a one-for-one steal by Jeff Gorton in exchange for Ryan Spooner during the 2018-19 season, he’s registered 195 points in 263 games. His on and off ice chemistry with Artemi Panarin has also become a big reason for the team’s success.
On July 13, Strome will be completing a 2-year deal he signed with the Blueshirts back in 2020 for $4.5M AAV.
“My longest deal has been my entry-level contract (3 years with two slides), so hopefully it’s a little longer than that,” Strome laughed. “My first choice is to still be a New York Ranger. I think I’ve given them the indication that’s my feeling. If that’s not the case then we will cross that bridge when we get to it.”
The question for the Rangers is how much they can go and for how many years? If Strome wants more than 3 years that could be tough. Especially, if the team believes Filip Chytil is close to being the number two center.
What’s the number that Strome will be happy with? He could fetch anywhere from to $6M to $7M million on the open market for at least five years. The Rangers are probably looking for something along the lines of $5M to $5.5M on a two to three year deal.
Where do things go from here?
There were multiple reports this season that the two sides had exchanged preliminary numbers.
“We talked a little bit but both sides decided to focus on hockey,” Strome confirmed. “I chose not to be a part of it. Going through it you get the information secondhand from your agent. For me, it was harder to focus the more I got involved. That’ll change now at the end of the season.”
One source told me back in December, if the term is right, Strome may accept $5.75M. This is going to be a very interesting negotiation and a discount to stay isn’t out of the question.
“The group of guys that have come together here, the core of this team is a really special bond,” said an emotional Strome. “I think you guys can feel that from the outside, but inside the dressing room it’s really special. That last game in Tampa was really tough. That was the most emotional end of a season I’ve seen by far. I hope we keep it going because this team is destined for great things. Me and Bread have become great friends. Off the ice I have a buddy to call and vice versa.”
The Rangers are cap crunched in 2022-23 and have to sign RFA Kaapo Kakko. They also have to reserve money for Alexis Lafrenière, K’Andre Miller and Chytil in 2023-24. If Strome is willing to sacrifice money for security, maybe something can be done. He will turn 29 in July so the Rangers must also be careful with the number of years and limit any no-trade protection.
Of course, there’s stiff competition for that little bit of cap space the Rangers have to spend. With only around $13.5M to play with at the moment, GM Chris Drury has to decide if Andrew Copp is a better fit going forward.
Copp, 27, is also a UFA that could be looking at a similar deal to Strome. This season, he amassed 53 points in 72 games. He also performed well in the playoffs with 14 points in 20 contests. The versatile forward that can play center or wing and is wrapping up a 1-year deal signed with the Winnipeg Jets for $3.64M.
Simply put the Rangers can’t afford both. Decisions are coming and this could be the biggest one Drury will have to make.
Note: Quotes pulled from interview posted on New York Rangers YouTube Channel.
A special thank you to all the reporters out in the field asking the great questions. In particular, NY Post’s Mollie Walker, Newsday’s Colin Stephenson, USA Today’s Vince Mercogliano, and NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.
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