Big-picture conversations about how to handle major life shifts are becoming unexpectedly common for Ryan Strome.
Less than a month ago, the right winger was sent from the Edmonton Oilers to the New York Rangers for centre Ryan Spooner, marking the second time in roughly 18 months Strome has found himself in a deal. Then, nine days after he was packing his suitcase, his little brother, Dylan Strome, was featured in a fairly significant swap between the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks.
Whether speaking to himself or his younger sibling, Strome tries to take the same glass-half-full approach. “There are two ways to look at a trade,” the 25-year-old said. “You can either be disappointed or you can be happy you’re wanted somewhere else.”
Strome has a few reasons to smile when it comes being a recently minted member of the Rangers. After being held pointless in his first two outings with the Blueshirts, Strome has put up five points in his past seven contests. He’s averaged just a tick over 16 minutes per night with New York, as opposed to the 14:25 he saw in 18 contests with Edmonton. While the Rangers have tailed off recently following a surprisingly good start, Strome says the organization has done everything it can to make him feel welcomed and he’s proud to be on an Original Six crew.
“To be a part of a young, energetic team that’s excited about the future is a lot of fun,” he says.
It’s easy to take Strome at his word when he says he’s optimistic about his new surroundings and focusing on being valued. It’s also very clear being moved out of Edmonton was an unanticipated development that required some reconciling. Strome doesn’t hide from the reality his production — just one goal and one assist — was seriously lacking out West, just as he won’t disguise the fact being told he was on the move again still stung.
“My numbers weren’t where [I wanted them to be] obviously, but I thought I was doing all the right things, playing well and thought I was a big part of the team,” he says. “Obviously when you get traded like that they have different things in mind. It’s frustrating, but at the same time you want to be in a place where you’re wanted.”
This experience — along with being dealt from the New York Islanders to the Oilers for Jordan Eberle in June 2017 — made Strome uniquely positioned to dole out brotherly advice when Dylan found himself being shipped to Chicago with Brendan Perlini for Nick Schmaltz.
It’s easy to look at the Stromes and see two guys drafted high — Ryan was selected fifth overall by the Isles in 2011, Dylan third overall by the Coyotes in 2015 — who never met expectations, making it easy for everyone involved to turn the page. When you’re on the inside, though, you’re blood-sweat-and-tears deep.
“You invest so much in an organization,” says Strome. “And then when you get moved, you get uprooted and all of a sudden you’re with someone else.”
Like his big bro, Dylan has shown a little spark in his new location, netting two goals through four games with the ‘Hawks. As for Ryan, Rangers coach David Quinn sees potential.
“We really like what he brings to the table,” Quinn said. “I think there’s a complete player there. He brings a little bit of offence — he’s been a guy who’s scored 50 points in the league — and when he plays an honest game, he can be productive offensively.”
The upside to being traded twice in a relatively short window is, of course, that you have some idea what to expect the second time around. There’s also the fact Strome has played nearly 400 games in the league now and, even if he’s still figuring out the player he can be, there’s a body of work that gives you some credibility.
“You come into a new team with a little more respect, the guys kind of know you a little more,” he said.
After so much upheaval, surely Strome is hoping he and the young Rangers get to know each other very well playing together for years to come.