The New York Rangers have some inexpensive replacement options for Ryan Strome

Jim Bay
Mar 11, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) is unable to score against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz (39) in the third period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have a bit of a player personnel decision coming up. as on November 5, they have an important arbitration hearing with 27-year-old Ryan Strome.

The Blueshirts would probably want Strome back for one year, maybe two. However, there is the issue of the pesky flat salary cap.

The other issue for the Rangers is what Ryan Strome are they paying for? The one that had a great deal of success playing with Artemi Panarin? Or the one that underachieved in Edmonton?

There is still a possibility that the two sides could settle before the arbitration date. However, if the arbitrator awards Strome an amount that does not suit the Rangers, they could just walk away and let him be an unrestricted free agent. The two sides are about a million dollars apart, with Strome reportedly looking for 5 million and the Rangers likely offering 4 million.

The Rangers generally would like to keep Strome to see if he could reproduce last season’s numbers, but the flat cap might make that impossible. Enter the “inexpensive replacement” for Strome.

Matthew Barzal – C – Islanders

Replacing Strome with someone from your crosstown rivals would be a very nice signing. The RFA was an $863,333 cap hit last season, but GM Lou Lamoriello sent a message to any GM thinking of floating an offer sheet Barzal’s way when was asked by a fan if he’d match any competitive contract offer for his top centerman.

“It is our intention to not allow it to get to that point, but should that happen, the answer is yes,” Lamoriello replied.

Whether or not they can is another matter, but Barzal brings a lot to the table. He has scored more points (60) and points per game (0.88) than any other impending RFA, despite playing in a system that emphasizes defense. Barzal skates more than 20 minutes a night and has three consecutive 60-point seasons and three seasons as the Isles’ top scorer. Plus he brings something that the Rangers greatly missed last year: a gutsy performance in the playoffs.

Anthony Cirelli – C – Lightning

Even though Tampa Bay would love to keep him, they have salary cap issues themselves. Last season, Cirelli was a $728,333 cap hit in Tampa Bay.

The 23-year-old came in fourth place in 2020 Selke Trophy voting for his two-way game.  His points per game and plus/minus have increased every season and he is in the top-five among all NHL forwards in penalty-killing time (2:49 per game).

The Lightning would love to have him back but will probably not be able to fit everyone they want under the cap.

Pierre-Luc Dubois – C – Blue Jackets

It would be great to reunite him with Panarin as Dubois exploded for a 61-point campaign skating mostly alongside the  Breadman but the reality is that Columbus does not have a salary cap problem and will likely want to keep him at almost any cost.

Derek Brassard – C – Unrestricted Free Agent

The 33-year-old, NHL journeyman and former Blueshirt played in 66 games where he has 10 goals and 22 assists and has a -2 plus/minus for the Islanders. He was a non-factor in the playoffs for the and was omitted from the lineup four times as a scratch, during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

His contract would likely be around a million dollars but his veteran presence may be welcomed.

Dylan Strome – C – Blackhawks

The younger brother of Ryan is a restricted free agent. While the Blackhawks may sign him, there has not been a big rush to do so, possibly as the brass in Chicago ponders what to do with their rebuild and their tight salary cap.

The younger Strome would cost about half as much as his brother and has posted 51 and 38 points respectively during his last two seasons in Chicago. Common wisdom should indicate that he could at least duplicate if not improve on those numbers playing with Panarin.

Jack Roslovic – C – Jets

Reports out of Winnipeg have stated that Roslovic has expressed an interest in a change of scenery. The 23-year-old has steadily improved in his three years in the league with the Jets. He posted career highs in goals (12) and assists (17) and has been starting to show the potential to be a No. 2 center on the team. This could mean that he would be a lower cost to Strome but could at least maintain the productivity.

It will be an interesting week to see what transpires between the Rangers and Ryan Strome. It is a tricky situation with the arbitration, a flat salary cap, and figuring his true value having a lot to do with whether Strome remains a Blueshirt or the Rangers part ways with him.