The Anaheim Ducks signed free agency forward Ryan Strome to a five-year contract with a $5 million budget cost last month.
Strome had spent the most of the previous four years with the New York Rangers, appearing in 263 games. He scored 21 goals and 54 points in 74 games last season, averaging 23 goals and 60 points per 82 games. We can anticipate Strome to play down the middle in Anaheim’s top-six, but he was a surprise acquisition to the squad. The Ducks only have one top-six center in Trevor Zegras, but Isac Lundestrom might be a good long-term third-line center.
So, while Strome as a top-six center is sufficient for the time being, it will be intriguing to see what the long-term strategy is. The most likely scenario is that he will be moved to the wing in the future, but it was an intriguing choice by Pat Verbeek. Having said that, Strome should be a valuable addition to the Ducks. Over the previous three seasons, he has averaged the following goals and points per 82 minutes:
- 2019-20 (70 GP): 21 G/82, 69 P/82
- 2020-21 (56 GP): 21 G/82, 71 P/82
- 2021-22 (74 GP): 23 G/82, 60 P/82
Strome has regularly been able to produce 20 G/82 and 60-70 P/82. He was playing alongside excellent talent in New York, but he can surely contribute at even strength, since 39 of his 54 points came at even strength last year.
Even if his output drops slightly, $5 million is still a reasonable price. Given that a similar center, Vincent Trocheck, inked a contract with the Rangers that was two years longer and with a greater salary hit, I’m happy with the Ducks’ offer. The cost of Strome’s contract is still low enough that the Ducks retain a lot of cap flexibility, and if Strome continues to play like he has, it will carry over.
It’s also a very fair period at five years. Strome is 29 years old, but he should have a few more excellent years ahead of him, so worrying about a decline now would be foolish. The pact also lacks trade protection, which is an undervalued component.
The deal also represents a significant move for the Ducks. There was some speculation that the Ducks would continue to sell and emphasize developing for the future, but Strome’s signing signaled that they want to be more competitive right now.