The New York Rangers have reached an agreement with restricted free agent forward Ryan Strome ahead of his arbitration hearing, signing him to a two-year contract worth a total of $9MM according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post. Strome’s hearing had been scheduled for later today, with his camp filing for $5.7MM and the Rangers filing for $3.6MM. This deal’s AAV comes down in the middle of those two numbers, but also importantly buys out an extra year of unrestricted free agency.
Strome, 27, could only have received a one-year contract from the arbitration process as he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The fifth-overall pick from 2011, he has already played in 491 NHL games in his career. Those haven’t all been successful outings, but Strome did seem to find his footing again after landing in New York in 2018. With 59 points in 70 games last season he was the team’s best offensive weapon behind the super-pair of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, though that isn’t expected to continue. The Rangers have a number of blue-chip prospects ready to make an impact including 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere.
What Strome does still represent is a solid middle-six center for a team that suddenly looks like they will compete for a playoff spot. Their offense is young, skilled, and deep, while the crease is safe in the hands of two young netminders. Tony DeAngelo was re-signed to a two-year deal, and Adam Fox looks like a future star.
Even if they decide that Strome isn’t the player they want to sign a long-term UFA deal with, the Rangers will have two cracks at it with him on this new deal, one that certainly doesn’t impede their ability to add even more. Only Brendan Lemieux remains unsigned and the team has more than $6.3MM in cap space.