Ryan Strome wasn’t acting like a player who had less than 72 hours to sign a contract or risk sitting out an entire season. He was on the ice with 15 of his Islanders teammates at IceWorks on Monday, running through some drills and a bit of shinny. Afterward, he consulted with Shakey Krouse, one of the Isles’ equipment managers, on gear he will need for the upcoming training camp and season.
“My job is to be ready for camp,” Strome said. “I feel like I had a good summer. I worked extremely hard, changed some things up in my routine and I feel good about getting ready for the season. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be here with my teammates ready to go. Good skate, good to be back with the guys, lot of laughs and we’re getting ready to go.”
Strome’s agents still are negotiating with general manager Garth Snow, however, and there’s a firm deadline. Under Charles Wang’s ownership, the Islanders instituted a rule that players not signed by the official start of camp would not get a contract offer at all until the season ended. Even with new majority owners, the rule remains in place. So 7 a.m. Thursday is the drop-dead hour for a new deal for the 23-year-old.
Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson went to the final hours in past years and Sean Bergenheim called the Isles’ bluff in 2006, spending a season in Europe before returning the following year.
Sources from Strome’s camp and the Islanders have said for weeks that there isn’t any sort of impossible hill to climb to get a deal done. He has no arbitration rights coming off his entry-level deal. It’s believed that there are one- and two-year offers being discussed and that money is the main issue.
But after a hugely disappointing 2015-16 season in which Strome posted only 28 points, spent three weeks in the AHL in November and was a healthy scratch for three of the Islanders’ 11 playoff games, he doesn’t have much leverage for a big offer. Just many incentives to get a deal done and prove that he is the integral part of the Isles that everyone thought he’d be after his 50-point season in 2014-15.
“For whatever reason — a bit of luck, a bit of me, a bit of everything, really — there’s certainly things I’d like to do better, things I need to do better, and I’m taking accountability for it,” he said. “I think I made the appropriate changes. You can learn from it, too.
“Last year tested me more mentally than anything I’ve had to go through in my career. You’ve got to make adjustments in your life, in your preparation.
“It’s everyday things. Training rituals, diet, workouts, kind of changing everything and find what works. I definitely put a lot of time and effort into the summer, and hopefully it pays off.”
The Islanders’ charity golf outing is Tuesday at Bethpage. Strome plans on taking part — not the act of a player looking to hold out. He’s proceeding as if things are on track for him to be an Islander and a productive one.
“I’ve got great agents [Pat Morris and Mark Guy of Newport Sports], that’s why I hired them,” Strome said. “Garth and them have a good relationship and no doubt in my mind they’ll get something done. It’s kind of out of my hands, I let them deal with it. That’s their expertise and they just want me to get ready for the season, not have to worry about it. I’ve kind of stayed out of it. So I came down, go on as if everything is normal and today was the first step. I certainly feel good and it’s certainly nice to be back.”