The Edmonton Oilers gave up right winger Jordan Eberle in exchange for Ryan Strome earlier this offseason. With the deal, the Oilers primary goal was to save cap space, but they also hope to revive Strome and push him in the right direction.
With the Oilers entering the 2017-18 campaign with little depth on the right wing, some believe that Strome should take on the role of a top-six winger. However, with his skill-set, comfort level and development, it may be wise to keep him at centre. In addition, he shouldn’t start off on the top-six right away.
First off, thinking of the Oilers depth chart, it would be wise to start him off as a third line centre.
While Leon Draisaitl definitely has what it takes to carry his own line, he has worked wonders on the wing with Connor McDavid. If this happens, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can also remain on the top six.
While Nugent-Hopkins has yet to truly recapture his scoring touch, he is showing upside and plays a solid, sure two-way game. As he continues to move in the right direction, Nugent-Hopkins, who costs $6 million per season, should not be on the bottom-six. It will not only shatter his confidence, but it would put the Oilers in a tough situation. They would be overpaying for a bottom-six player, and his value would decrease tremendously.
If Strome starts as the third line centre, the Oilers will have McDavid, Ryan-Nugent-Hopkins, Strome and Mark Letestu as their centres and that builds solid depth to build around.
When it comes to Strome, he displays solid skill at centre. He wins around 40 percent of his faceoffs, which isn’t too impressive but will work for the Oilers. The 24-year-old is also more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, so he will be able to carry his own line and showcase more confidence and skill down the middle. Not to mention, the 6-foot-1, 199-pound forward also plays great two-way game and takes good care of the puck.
When considering his scoring totals, Strome has put up bottom-six numbers. He finished this past season with 13 goals and 30 points and has only hit the 50-point mark once in his career. When he starts to show upside, more scoring ability and results, Strome should try to switch to the wing.
Strome shows a lot of upside but should not be rushed or expected to take on a top-six role on the wing. He needs to be comfortable to start putting up consistent numbers, and with him starting off in his comfort zone, he can thrive with Edmonton. From that point on, he can work toward the top six role.
Overall, Strome shows tremendous upside and ability but has been plagued with inconsistency through his career. As he looks to turn around his career with Edmonton, he must ease into the team’s roster, especially as he transitions to a new team, as well as Pacific Division hockey.