The New York Islanders’ signing policy for restricted free agents states they have to be under contract by the start of training camp or negotiations will be cut off and the unsigned player will be forced to sit out the campaign. That left the Islanders and Ryan Strome only a few days to get a deal done before camp was set to begin, but the two sides have made it work.
The Islanders and Strome officially reached a deal Tuesday morning which will bring the 23-year-old back to the club this coming campaign. The pact is for two years and $5-million, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, and it comes with just two day’s worth of daylight between the contract signing and the first skate of Islanders’ training camp.
Staple reported early Tuesday morning that the Islanders and Strome, who was the Islanders’ first-round pick, fifth overall, in 2011, were talking both one- and two-year deals, but the issue at hand was what exactly the RFA winger would be paid on his new deal.
After an impressive 17-goal, 50-point sophomore season in 2014-15, it would have been expected that Strome would command a sizeable raise on his second NHL deal, but Strome’s totals slipped in a big way this past season. In 71 games in 2015-16, Strome netted just eight goals and 28 points, and he also saw a brief demotion to the AHL during the height of his struggles.
What the two sides landed on was an annual salary of $2.5 million, which is a nice-sized bridge deal for Strome considering how much his production dipped in 2015-16. It puts him in a comparable contract range to other RFAs such as New York Rangers winger J.T. Miller and center Kevin Hayes, Buffalo Sabres winger Marcus Foligno and Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok.
The hope now, though, is that with the changes that the Islanders’ roster has undergone this off-season — which includes the departures of lineup regulars Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin — Strome will step into a bigger role with the club and recapture his form from the 50-point campaign.
If given top-six minutes, Strome can likely find his scoring touch again, and he told Staple he put the work in to make a bigger impact this coming season.
“Last year tested me more mentally than anything I’ve had to go through in my career,” Strome told Staple. “You’ve got to make adjustments in your life, in your preparation…Training rituals, diet, workouts, kind of changing everything and find what works. I definitely put a lot of time and effort into the summer, and hopefully it pays off.”
With Strome under contract, the Islanders will now enter the campaign with absolutely zero wiggle room under the salary cap, according to CapFriendly. Roster moves are still to be made, however, as the Islanders are carrying a number of players on one-way deals who could be sent back to the AHL.
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