Halfway through the summer, it’s easy to understand if Ryan Strome still feels like he has a skate in two worlds.
Six weeks ago, on the eve of the NHL Draft, Strome was traded for the first time in his pro career. And even when the star of your new team is close with your entire family, it still takes time to process what’s gone on. Until Strome, a former New York Islander, pulls on a new jersey in training camp, the Edmonton Oilers might seem more other than us.
But he’s getting there.
“I like the way they play,” Strome said. “I watched them a lot in the playoffs, I think they’ve got a great style. Not only that, I think they’re very close — or, we’re very close — to winning a Stanley Cup and that’s certainly exciting. To jump into a team that’s well on their way is a huge honour and it’s going to be a good opportunity.”
Strome was swapped for right-winger Jordan Eberle in a move that saw the Oilers shed salary while picking up a 24-year-old player they hope is on the upswing. Strome netted 50 points as a 21-year-old in 2014-15, but has yet to truly meet the expectations that came with being drafted fifth overall in 2011. Chances are Strome will never produce goals at the same rate Eberle did for Edmonton, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an important piece. Where Strome will land in the formation is a matter for the Oilers coaching staff to decide, though if history is any precedent, his diversity will be valued.
“Looking at Todd McLellan’s teams in San Jose and now in Edmonton, they have guys all over the lineup that play centre and wing,” said Strome, in reference to players like Shark Joe Pavelski, Shark-turned-Maple Leaf Patrick Marleau and the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl.
Captain Connor McDavid certainly believes Strome can help the Oilers, citing the former’s shot and smarts as assets. Beyond hockey, the move also reunites McDavid with a Strome clan he knows very well. The NHL’s reigning scoring champ and MVP spent two years playing major junior hockey with Ryan’s younger brother, Dylan Strome, when McDavid and Dylan were both Erie Otters. The pair formed a close bond that persists to this day, as does McDavid’s ties to the Ryan and Dylan’s parents, Trish and Chris.
“It’s exciting to be reunited with the Strome family,” said McDavid, who was in Toronto for much of the week with Ryan Strome taking part in the Power Edge Pro Hockey skills camp.
Strome actually spent the final year of his OHL career with the Niagara IceDogs as McDavid’s rival. Then, once he’d moved on to the pros and his younger sibling became McDavid’s teammate, he gained a new rooting interest.
“I was a pretty big Erie Otters fan for a couple years there,” he says with a laugh.
Here’s betting Strome has no trouble identifying with another McDavid-led team in the very near future.