|One more year?|
Barring a major trade, what you see now on Long Island is [most likely] what you will see come October. The Isles currently have 13 forwards (not including Josh Bailey, Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson) and 6 defensemen (not including Thomas Hickey, Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan) under contract for the 2013-14 season. Basically, spots are limited, and the Islanders are unlikely to add anyone to an already crowded roster, unless they can find a player who can provide something that nobody else currently signed can provide. At the Orange vs. Blue scrimmage on Thursday night, however, many Islanders' fans left the Nassau Coliseum with the impression that the Islanders' already have that player.
I missed our weekly Saturday Afternoon Discussion, so I'm posing a question for all of you this beautiful Sunday morning: Seeing Ryan Stome on Thursday night left many of us enchanted with his ability, but do you think he should start next season with the New York Islanders?
As many Islanders' fans called for him to make the team last January, Garth Snow went a separate direction and allowed him to develop in the OHL for one more year. Strome, who had proved all he could at the Junior Hockey level, was too young for the AHL, but not necessarily ready for the physicality and speed of the NHL.
Ryan Strome played out his final junior-eligible season in the OHL, finishing with a better point-per-game pace (1.77) through 53 games than he did during his 106-point campaign in 2010-11. As soon at the 2012-13 season concluded, Ryan Strome made his way to the AHL.
Strome's pro-debut went particularly well. Many Islanders' fans drove up to Webster Bank Arena to see the Islanders' 5th-overall pick in 2011 in action, and, like on Thursday night, were left with positive impressions. Ryan Strome scored one goal, and added one assist, while playing wing on the Sound Tigers' first-line.
Strome's experiment on the wing would continue during his 10 appearances in Bridgeport. Strome would register 2 goals and 5 assists while playing alongside Brock Nelson and the now-departed Nino Niederreiter.
Now, after a three-point (1-2-3) performance on Thursday night, Ryan Strome appears to be the best offensive player out of all the Islanders' prospects. Is it time?
I think it would be great to see Ryan Strome in an Islanders' jersey next season. I've said it all along - Ryan Strome is the long-term solution at John Tavares' wing. His offensive vision and playmaking abilities combined with John Tavares' goal scoring prowess makes for all the tools that can transform the Islanders' first-line one into one of the most feared lines in the entire NHL.
As I mentioned, though, the Islanders already have a full roster before you factor in Ryan Strome. If you want Strome to make the NHL next season, who is it that you remove from the line-up on a nightly basis? Pierre-Marc Bouchard isn't going anywhere, and neither is Michael Grabner (barring a major trade), Kyle Okposo, or Cal Clutterbuck. My answer would be Josh Bailey, but only because he isn't currently signed to a contract.
The truth is, the Islanders' can afford to see what Ryan Strome can do in the AHL, even for half of a season, before making any decisions. Yes, we would love to see John Tavares have a stand-out winger to play with, but let's not forget that the Islanders finished last season with the 8th-best offense in the NHL. It's not like they were struggling to put points on the board, as they were in 2011-12.
Personally, unless Ryan Strome has a remarkably stand-out training camp performance, I think Strome should start the 2013-14 season in Bridgeport. Patience is, of course, required (and I'm sure less-desired), but giving him some time to adapt to professional-speed while playing in the minors couldn't hurt.
Keep in mind that this year, the Islanders will have the option to call him up whenever they want, so if he dazzles us like he did during his pro-debut in April and the Orange vs. Blue Scrimmage on Thursday, he can expect an early call-up.
One thing is clear, however. Strome knows that, if expects to play in the NHL, he will have to earn it.
"I want to play in the NHL with the Islanders and I want to help the team win. If that's the situation I'm put in, I'll definitely do my best to produce. But at the same time, I don't expect anything. I expect to earn everything I have."Make him earn it, and if he's ready, he will.
What do you think, Isles' fans? Should Ryan Strome start next season in the NHL, or would he benefit from some extra time with the Sound Tigers?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!