New York Islanders Ryan Strome Contract Game Proves Unfruitful

New York Islanders still have an important RFA to sign before the start of the season. With Florida locking up their big RFA, how does this impact the Islanders and their negotiations?

The New York Islanders still have one RFA Ryan Strome not signed with just over a month to go before the season officially opens. Deals don’t always get done during the season, so we won’t knock the team for not locking up Strome before May 15th, 2016.

But it’s been almost four months since that time. Sure the Isles had a draft to prepare for. And free-agency to deal with. But both of those were done back in July. That’s still two full months to get a deal worked out.

Maybe Strome and his camp were just waiting for a better offer from the team. Or for a precedence setting contract they could use to leverage their position. In walks the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers have just signed previous RFA, Jonathan Huberdeau to a six-year $35.4 million contract. The young Québec native is a core piece of Florida’s young team and a big part of their resurgence.

Huberdeau and Strome

Locking him up to a long-term deal is well within the Panthers interests. Unlike Strome, Huberdeau is a known quantity. Aside from a tiny sophomore slump, Huberdeau has been trending in the right direction as he approaches his peak years. Getting Huberdeau at a $5.9 million cap hit until the age of 29, when Huberdeau is likely going to be on the decline is great cap management.

Now the precedence here isn’t so much in the dollars but in the term. Florida went through the traditional route of offering the player a two-year bridge deal after his ELC expired. It cost them then, offering Huberdeau a $3.75 million AAV, but it worked out. Huberdeau was able to prove himself to the team, and he was rewarded for it.

Counter that with what the New York Islanders did when it came to Ryan Strome. His ELC was five year, essentially absorbing the typical two-year “show me” bridge deal. So now, five years in and after three NHL seasons we still don’t know what to make of Strome. And nor do the Islanders.

Is he that offensive threat who can net 50 points in a season? Or is he a lower tier depth forward who can chip in with 20-30 points in a year?

Doin’ It Wrong

This is typically the point, at 23-years old where players look for that first big deal. The first deal that allows them to plant their feet in a market. That first deal that establishes exactly who they are, and what type of player they are.

Strome’s big ELC was a great cost cutting measure, but how much did it hinder their future bargaining. We already know the Isles made mistakes when it came to where to play Strome on the ice. But did those mistakes extend to contract negotiations?

Absolutely. Strome didn’t really hep himself by having such a poor year in 2015-16. But the impasse on what the two sides are looking for in terms of a deal could have been avoided by going the traditional three-year ELC and two-year bridge.

Strome would ideally be asking for that bridge deal in order to prove himself and get that big payday later on. While the team is likely trying to lock him up at a low rate over a longer term deal. At which point we have a loggerhead.

A few things could have avoided this. First, Strome could have played better last season. He puts up similar or better numbers the team moves forward with something similar to the deal Huberdeau got, six-years ~$30 million. Second, the team should have remembered that being cheap doesn’t always payoff.

This article originally appeared on