The Rangers offseason has been anything but boring so far as Strome deal pivotal

The 2020 off-season for the New York Rangers and its loyal fanbase has been quite interesting to say the least. Rangerstown experienced the unbridled joy and sheer optimism of selecting Alexis Lafrenière first overall in the entry draft. Then, the Rangers brain-trust traded up from 22 to 19 to nab throw-back defenseman Braden Schneider with the draft pick obtained from the Carolina Hurricanes in the Brady Skjei swap.

Rangers offseason: Moving on from Henrik Lundqvist

As uplifting as the NHL draft was and as much as the Rangers have fortified what many believe to be the deepest prospect pool in all of hockey, the Garden Faithful had to say goodbye to A legend. Henrik Lundqvist, the “The King” and the only NHL franchise he had ever known decided a parting of ways was advantageous for both sides.

Life goes on as the saying goes and team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton had to move on from the emotional break up with the all time leading “everything” for goalies in franchise history. Defenseman Tony D’Angelo got a spankin’ new two year contract as did the very likable net-minder Alex Georgiev. He will presumably split time with Igor Shesterkin between the pipes whenever and where ever the 2021 NHL season commences.

Dealing with Ryan Strome

ryan strome
Strome scores (AP/Jay LaPrete)

With the hoopla of the draft in the rear view mirror and with the Lundqvist now in Our Nation’s Capitol, Gorton and Davidson can set their sights on the remaining restricted free agents, Brendan Lemieux and Ryan Strome. One would imagine the former’s new contract should be relatively simple, while the decision on what to do with Strome seems more complicated.

There’s two schools of thought on Strome. One side of the binary says that Strome, the 5th overall selection in the 2011 draft and former Islanders top prospect, is a late bloomer. The other side of the coin is Strome’s career year stat line was a direct result of playing pivot on a line with the exceptionally outstanding Artemi Panarin.

In the playoff series against Carolina, where the Blueshirts were swept right out of the Toronto bubble, the Hurricanes, smartly, told the Rangers that Panarin was not going to beat them. Panarin would be smothered and double-teamed whenever he was in the same zip code of the puck and Strome would have to be the player to carry the load.

Well, to be bluntly honest, Strome was unable to. The “Canes laid down the blueprint on how other teams can slow down and shut down the great Hart Trophy finalist, Panarin.

Getting it right with Strome

While it is true that the Rangers lack of depth at center throughout the organization is glaring, it is also true that Strome may not be the long term answer we all hope he can be. Hence, calling off the upcoming arbitration hearings and agreeing with the Mississauga, ONT native on anything longer than a two year contract is counter productive.

In the humble view of this author, the best course of action for Gorton and Davidson to take regarding Strome is for both sides to agree on a one year “let’s see if you can do it again” deal. If Strome can equal or even surpass last year’s breakout season, then he would be most deserving of a long term commitment. If Strome is steadfast on nothing shorter than a three year contract, which is his right as a free agent, then I believe a parting of the ways best serves the Rangers organization and Strome should be moved for future assets.

The NHL salary cap is staying flat for the foreseeable future and the Rangers stable of highly touted youngsters are soon coming off entry level contracts. That means John Davidson and Jeff Gorton must use extreme caution when deciding which veterans to sign long term and which to move on from.

Essentially, if the Rangers are going to agree with Ryan Strome on a multi year lucrative contract, man, they better get it right because the franchise simply cannot keep buying out older players on bad contracts. The so called and seemingly never-ending “dead money” on the Rangers cap acts like an albatross and will eventually hinder the team’s ability to keep a player or players with whom they simply lack the cap space to resign.

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