Will Ryan Strome Start The Season On Long Island?

There is a lot of excitement among Islanders fans these days. The excitement of the coming season, especially after making the playoffs for the first time in 6 seasons, is augmented by the swelling legion of prospects that fans hope can bolster the ranks.

The guy who generates the most excitement in the minds of a lot of fans is Ryan Strome. The kid is flashy with great hands. He is a good skater with great on ice vision. He has played center mostly in the past, but in this training camp he has spent some time on the wing in an attempt to expand his game.

That, Isles fans, is probably very telling.

The 6’1” Missisauga, ON native who was drafted fifth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has been a center for most of his junior career. So why is he so willing to work on the wing? (Photo credit: islanders.nhl.com)

There are two main reasons for this. First, the kid has a great attitude and is willing to do what’s required to make this New York club the best it can be. Second, there may not be room, especially among the top six forwards, for Strome on this team this season.

What that means is the team as currently constructed likely has a second line of Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey (another former center) centered by Frans Nielsen. This line is an almost lock, barring injury, to start the season intact. We all know who’s centering the top line.

That leaves a spot on the wing in the top six, once again, barring injury.

That is important, for the Isles and for Strome. Everyone knows how skilled Strome is. Everyone also knows how tough it can be to put a player into a role he is not made to play. Think about it, and this is no knock on Colin McDonald, would you want McDonald on Tavares’ wing?

Along the same lines, you wouldn’t want Strome on the third or fourth lines either.

However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Strome is quite young and still a bit slim. He could probably use some time at Bridgeport (he had seven points in ten games with the Sound Tigers last season) to get more accustomed to the pro game and to work on his body. It would also offer him the chance to further develop his leadership skills.

The other side of this coin is that the Isles may not need him this season. If Pierre Marc-Bouchard can claim a spot opposite of Matt Moulson on Tavares’ line, and the team stays relatively healthy, it allows the youth to further develop.

For Strome, it’s probably best for him to spend a full season in Bridgeport on the top line. There, he can be a big fish in a little pond, develop leadership skills and get more seasoning.

For the Isles, this is probably the best case scenario for this season. The time of rushing prospects is past. For the Islanders prospects, it’s all in the future.

-Donovan Brooks

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Rob McGowan's picture

You make good points Donovan. I would honestly like to see Nelson or Strome in the lineup over a guy like Regin. But maybe we won't. Like you said, the Isles aren't in a position where they need to force young talent into the lineup to take up a roster spot. The spots are more or less filled. However, if either one of them do get a spot on opening night, that's because they earned it.

And if they aren't in the starting lineup, I still think it's very possible we will see either one before the end of the year.

Should be a fun few days of preseason hockey before the start of the season.