Last month, the Anaheim Ducks signed free agent forward Ryan Strome to a five-year contract, which carries a $5 million cap hit.
Strome had spent the majority of the last four years with the New York Rangers, playing 263 games with the team. This past season, he scored 21 goals and 54 points in 74 games, a pace of 23 goals and 60 points per 82 games.
We can expect that Strome will play down the middle in Anaheim’s top-six but it was still a bit of an unexpected addition for the team. The Ducks have one top-six center in Trevor Zegras, while Isac Lundestrom can be a great fit as a long-term third-line center. While this leaves a spot for Strome in the meantime, the x-factor is Mason McTavish. The plan is obviously for McTavish to play as a center in the team’s top-six and even though he’s likely to start on the wing like Zegras did, it won’t be long before the transition is made.
So while Strome as a top-six center works for now, it’ll be interesting to see what the long-term plan is. The most likely scenario is that he’s shifted to the wing down the road but at the very least, it was an interesting decision from Pat Verbeek.
That said, Strome should be a pretty important addition for the Ducks. He’s averaged the following goals and points per 82 pace over the last three seasons:
Strome has consistently been able to hit 20 G/82 and between 60-70 P/82. He was playing with quality talent in New York but regardless, he can certainly produce at even strength, with 39 of his 54 points last year coming at even strength.
At $5 million, even if his production does slip a bit, it’ll still be a fair price. I’m impressed with the deal for the Ducks, given that a pretty comparable center in Vincent Trocheck signed a contract with the Rangers that was two years longer and carried a higher cap hit. The price on Strome's deal is still a low enough price that the Ducks maintain a lot of cap flexibility and if Strome continues to produce like he has, it’ll carry major upside.
At five years, it’s also a really reasonable term. Strome is 29 years old but should still have a few more good years left and fear of a decline at this point would be premature. There's also no trade protection on the deal, which is an underrated component.
The signing also marks a sizeable shift for the Ducks. There was somewhat of an expectation that the team may continue to sell and really prioritize building for the future, but the Strome signing was a signal that the Ducks want to be more competitive right now.
Strome is a quality addition for the Ducks, especially given the reasonable nature of the contract.