With Ryan Strome’s arbitration hearing scheduled for Thursday, the Rangers and Strome have filed their respective salary proposals, according to reports. And they are not close.
According to Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman, the Rangers submitted a figure of $3.6 million per year, and Strome's number was $5.7 million. The arbitrator could choose either, or could arrive at a figure somewhere in between. If the sides haven’t settled before the case gets to arbitration, the arbitrator will have 48 hours to provide a ruling.
Typically, the Rangers don’t make it to arbitration. Forward Nikolai Zherdev was the last Ranger to go to arbitration, in 2009. This year, defenseman Tony DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev settled before their cases reached the arbitrator. DeAngelo signed a two-year deal worth an average of $4.8 million per year, and Georgiev agreed to a two-year deal worth an average of $2.425 million.
Strome, 27, had a career year playing as the Rangers’ second-line center, with Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin on his left wing. Strome, who earned $3.2 million in 2019-20, scored 18 goals and posted career highs in assists (41) and points (59).
But the Rangers wonder whether Strome’s numbers were inflated by playing with Panarin. And they also find themselves in a difficult situation under the $81.5 million salary cap. They freed up $5.7 million when they traded Marc Staal to Detroit and saved another $3 million by buying out the last year of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. But they still have had to be bargain-conscious in free agency, and they just can’t overspend on Strome or Brendan Lemieux, who also has filed for arbitration. Lemieux’ arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday.
Should the arbitrator award Strome a salary the Rangers do not want to pay, they could walk away from the decision and the player could declare himself a free agent. That’s what happened with Zherdev.