Ryan Strome Makes His Long Island Debut
Kevin Schultz , Islanders Point Blank:
SYOSSET, NY — This morning, Ryan Strome hit the ice for the first time as a member of the New York Islanders in a blue, #18 practice jersey. The 19-year old, drafted 5th overall in 2011, is the next in a long line of recent Islander draft picks expected to excel on Long Island.
Strome is on Long Island early for next week’s training camp, skating informally with teammates today at Iceworks. He’s a prime candidate to take one of the few remaining spots left up for grabs. The Islanders have 12 forwards under NHL contract, meaning there are one or two more spots still available. Strome didn’t know if he would earn one of those spots, saying he hadn’t talked to the coaching staff ‘about anything.’
“I don’t have control over that, I just got to earn another day and make the decision really hard,” he said after today’s skate. “I have no expectations really for myself, I just want to play the best I can. I feel like a much better player than I was last year, and I’ve proved a lot of things and I hope it all works out here.”
Part of proving himself was earlier this month at the World Junior Championships. Strome laced up for Team Canada, which fell short as a team with a fourth place finish. Individually, Strome played well with four goals in six games on junior hockey’s biggest stage but that did come against mostly younger competition.
By arriving on Long Island Strome leaving his junior team, the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, in the middle of the season. In Niagara, he amassed 263 points in 204 games over a four-year span, was the star of the team, and had practically out grown the league. One of his most recent feats was helping the IceDogs mount a furious comeback against Sudbury in November. Down 5-1 with six minutes to go, Strome helped engineer a comback that saw his team win 6-5 in over time.
Unless something changes in the brand new CBA, the Islanders only options for Strome are to return him to the OHL or keep him on Long Island. If he plays on Long Island in five games or fewer he could be returned to Niagara without using up a year of his entry level contract. For Strome, Long Island is what he’s had his sights set on for a while.
“My goal has been all year to play here for a year,” he said. “But at the same time, I know it’s a short camp and I just have to work on each day… I want to be good every day and earn the next day and earn the next game.”