Ryan Strome’s future should concern Rangers

Aside from the fact that Rangers aren’t close enough to serious Stanley Cup competition to deserve to send away a blue chip or two in exchange for a loan, even for one like Tomas Hertl who could have a dramatic impact , there’s another reason Chris Drury will be conservative as the President-General Manager nears his first trading deadline.

That’s because if Ryan Strome doesn’t sign an extension by March 21, the blueshirts will need all of those chips over the summer to trade for a second-line center, with both Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat primary targets and Chicago’s Kirby will be a secondary person of interest.

There is no indication that the parties are close to reaching an agreement, although deadlines may help to clarify. If Strome remains a pending free agent through next Monday, he’s likely gone. If #16 has a strong stretch run and playoffs, the asking price, which management has not yet met, would presumably increase. If he stumbles, why would Rangers want to keep him at all costs?

There was a running top 6 spot vacant on the right side. The third line has to be built almost completely from scratch in the summer. But with Strome gone, that floating organizational void in the middle behind Mika Zibanejad will become a hole that will swallow the entire operation, Igor Shesterkin or not.

Drury must bide his time and save his best tradable assets for a rainy day. And by the way, if Scheifele or Horvat were available now, it would be worth a slight overpayment to keep them out of an extended summer market and get something done before the deadline.

Ryan Strome could be a free agent after this season.

Who’s your first-line center on a 24-and-under New York-New Jersey team, Jack Hughes or Mathew Barzal?

And how scary would it be in New Jersey if Luke Hughes, who set records as a freshman on the Michigan blue line, turned out to be the best of the breed?

The Maple Leafs, who as of Dec. 7 have the NHL’s worst five-a-side save percentage of .885 and fourth-worst overall for that span of time at .882, are looking for their version of 2006’s Dwayne Roloson.

Roloson, then 36, was having an average season at the net for the non-playoff wild when he was traded to the Oilers as of deadline. The rest of the regular season was average enough, but Roloson hit a pitch in the postseason and took Edmonton to the cup final with eight seeds before losing to Carolina in seven games.

Ryan Strome has an attempt on goal

This is an exception to the rule where late-season goalie changes don’t work as planned. Exhibit A, of course, is Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, who went on loan in St. Louis in 2014, and by the way, Miller should be among the goaltenders who didn’t win the trophy and should seriously be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

That’s what the Maple Leafs, whose organizational credibility rests on the team’s ability to win a playoff round for the first time since 2004, need to find before the deadline. It won’t be easy for GM Kyle Dubas, but it’s next to impossible to believe Toronto will bet its currency on Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek on the net.

Henrik Lundqvist to Igor Shesterkin represents a royal line of goalkeeper succession, there is no doubt about that. But there has never been anything like the Montreal relay, where Canadians had all but two seasons of Hall of Famers on the net during the 45 years between 1954-55 and 1978-79.

There was Jacques Plante from 1954-55 to 1962-63, after which he was traded to Rangers for a package with Hall of Famer Gump Worsley. When Worsley was injured in early 1963–64, he was replaced by Charlie Hodge by the middle of the following year. Hodge wasn’t a Hall of Famer. So 1963-64 was a year-long exception.

Worsley reclaimed the net after being recalled in 1964-65, worked with Hodge for two years before working with Hall of Famer Rogie Vachon in 1968-69 (Tony Esposito played 13 games for Montreal as a substitute for 1968-69 injuries 69, gives the Habs three Hall of Famers on the web). Vachon then traded it in the 1971 playoffs to Hall of Famer Ken Dryden, who took a year-long hiatus in 1973-74. That was the second exception.

Dryden resumed his career the following season and retired in 1979 after a fourth consecutive Cup. So 43 of 45 seasons with Plante, Worsley, Vachon and Dryden.

Snapshot. Elite Eight: 1. Colorado; 2. Calgary; 3.Florida; 4. Carolina; 5. Tampa Bay; 6. St Louis; 7. Pittsburgh; 8.Toronto.

Perhaps the fact that Auston Matthews doesn’t seem to get a call from officials explains why the league’s best player always seems to have a scowl on his public face, but I doubt it.

Speaking of retirement-earning numbers, I think I’d be partial to Jim Schoenfeld’s No. 6, who joins the handful of honorees in Buffalo.

Austin Matthews
USA today sports

Terry Pegula, owner of the Sabers and Bills, whose real-time net worth was estimated at $5.7 billion by Forbes as of Saturday, appears close to receiving $1 billion in public funding for a new soccer stadium.

This likely means it’s only a matter of time before he starts laying off more people working for the hockey team.

After recovering from back problems that had kept him on injured reserve all season, Montreal defender Joel Edmundson was set to make his debut on Saturday and give the hierarchy a week to showcase the 28-year-old who has two more seasons left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $3.5 million.

Former GM Marc Bergevin certainly did the Canadians’ current hierarchy a disservice by leaving bottom-ranked Joel Armia with another three years of contract at an average annual value of $3.4 million.

Finally, I’m sorry Jack Eichel didn’t tell us what he really thinks about Buffalo. Ryan Strome’s future should concern Rangers


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