Time for Isles to Call Up Strome?
Ryan Strome was named AHL Player of the Week and Rookie of the Month today. The Mississauga native had 3 goals and 6 points in 3 games for Bridgeport, and potted 5 goals and 10 assists during November to propel him to fourth in AHL scoring (7 goals and 25 points in all).
With the young centre in form, and the Islanders struggling, surely there has never been a better time for the franchise to call upon the 20-year old?
It was a surprise to some that Strome did not make the Islanders roster from the off this season; with the club preferring to send him back to Bridgeport for further seasoning. But with the Islanders bottom of the Metropolitan Division and on a six game losing streak, an injection of offensive talent is much needed.
As Newsday’s Arthur Staple highlighted, there are two major areas Strome’s presence could help address:
The Isles powerplay is coming in at 16.3% at present (21st overall) and has hinged almost entirely on Captain John Tavares (12 powerplay points) and Danish centre Frans Nielsen (1 goal and 8 PP points).
If they don’t ‘click’, then the advantage of having the extra man seems almost nil.
The downside of those expectations, as Staple alludes to, is that Nielsen seems to be struggling as a result. Normally one of the clubs swiftest movers, the 29-year old seems sluggish of late and an additional skill player to bolster the PP and ease the burden on Nielsen, the teams third highest scorer, has obvious benefits.
Of course having Thomas Vanek fit again should also ease the pressure on Tavares and Nielsen, but adding Strome to the line up could extend beyond a simple boost to the powerplay.
Josh Bailey and Michael Grabner have both been healthy scratches, struggling to find their offensive game so far this season. Pierre-Marc Bouchard has also made a slow start to his time on Long Island and few others have stood out in the offensive zone. With Lubomir Visnovsky sidelined with a concussion, offensive support from the blue line is also thin on the ground.
In short, confidence in front of goal seems low and quality scoring chances are scarce.
Strome on the other hand has been a major contributor to Bridgeport’s offence and you only need look at Calvin DeHaan’s performance against Washington on Saturday to see that confidence among the Isles prospects appears much higher than it is for some of their big league brethren.
Arthur Staple did highlight one potential pitfall however – whose spot does Strome take?
Assuming the Islanders keep Strome, the fifth overall pick in 2011, at centre then Peter Regin seems the most vulnerable.
The Dane could be moved to the wing, where he has played previously, but would Strome’s be able to play the same depth role Regin has? As a more ‘finesse’ style of player, it is hard to see him being able to be truly effective on the 3rd or 4th line as thing stand.
Would he be able to unseat Nielsen as the Isles #2 centre? Tavares is obviously the go to guy; so either Nielsen would be shunted down (which seems unlikely) or the Isles would need to re-balance the lines to provide Strome adequate support on the third line.
Either option would represent a ‘bold move’ by the club in many ways. But maybe that’s what is needed right now.
When asked by Mike Ashmore about a shot with the Isles, Strome said “I feel like I’ve been ready for a while”, adding “I want to go up there and make sure I don’t come back. When that comes, I’ll be ready to go.”.
Strome is clearly ready, but whether the Islanders are ready to take a chance on him, and how they’d deploy his talents, remains unclear.
Given their current plight though, the Islanders owe it to themselves to find a way to make the most of the best talent at their disposal. And Strome is one heck of a talent.