You know the saying when it comes to the Columbus Blue Jackets. If there’s a center potentially available in a trade, there’s a good chance they’ve explored that option.
On the latest edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, Pierre Lebrun mentions that the Chicago Blackhawks are listening on center Dylan Strome.
It’s easy to see why the Blackhawks are listening. They now have Tyler Johnson. Captain Jonathan Toews is back and ready to play. And Kirby Dach is healthy. There’s your top-three centers. Strome has seemingly been squeezed out.
Strome Would Be an Upgrade
There is plenty to like about Strome even though he had one of his worst seasons last season with the Blackhawks. He’s a 6-foot-3 center who has a recent 51-point season under his belt. In 2018-19, Strome scored 17 goals and 51 points. And while +/- is a dangerous stat to look at, he was a +2 in 58 games that season. Considering the Blackhawks were sixth in a seven team Central Division, that’s a solid season for him.
But as time has gone on, Strome’s opportunity has been dwindling with the Blackhawks. He scored just nine goals in 40 games and was a -16. Given his place on the current depth chart, a fresh start seems more than inevitable.
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The question here is should the Blue Jackets pursue Strome. If so, why should they pursue him? Have you seen the Blue Jackets’ depth chart at center?
These are the four centers who project to play Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
- Alexandre Texier
- Jack Roslovic
- Cole Sillinger
- Sean Kuraly
While the Blue Jackets expect big things moving forward for Texier, he hasn’t broken out yet as they hoped he would. He scored just four goals in 49 games and has never had a full season of over 40% at the faceoff dot. He has a career mark of 36%. So now he might be the top center on a line with Patrik Laine and Jakub Voracek. That seems rich.
As for the other options, Roslovic has put up numbers but is still working his way on the other aspects of being a top-center. Sillinger had an impressive camp but at just 18, is he ready for an immediate top-six role? And Kuraly’s game is more meant for the bottom-six.
It seems clear that acquiring Strome would be an upgrade on this roster. He can score and contribute on the power play. While his faceoff numbers aren’t great (just 47.1% in his career), only Kuraly has a higher career percentage than Strome at just over 50%.
The Blue Jackets do have Boone Jenner and Max Domi who could each play center. However each is on the wing to start the season. Domi is coming off of shoulder surgery and the team wants to start him on the wing as a result.
Current Contract Details & More
Strome is entering the final year of his current deal making $3 million. He will be an RFA after this season. If the Blue Jackets were to acquire him, he would be under team control.
Recall that the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks have an extensive recent history of big trades with each other. Most recently, the Seth Jones deal went down at the draft. Before that, Artemi Panarin was dealt.
What is interesting is that some believe Strome could have been included in that bigger Jones deal. But it was Adam Boqvist who was the main roster player involved. Perhaps the Blue Jackets asked and were told no. Or perhaps the Blue Jackets weren’t interested. Regardless, Jarmo Kekalainen and Stan Bowman are comfortable with each other talking trades.
As always, the return on a potential deal is of utmost importance. The Blue Jackets won’t overpay in a situation like this. But if the return is right, they have to explore any avenue to get better.
Blue Jackets Should Pursue Strome
Ask yourself this question. Who would you rather have starting as your top center? Texier or Strome? Or how about Strome vs. anyone else on this roster? Based on careers to date, the answer seems like it would be Strome.
Although he has fallen short of third-overall expectations, there’s a reason why Strome was picked that high. He could score. If put in the right situation, there’s a chance he could regain his form and make $3 million look like a bargain. Considering the need for a center on the Blue Jackets, he would have every opportunity to produce.
If I’m the Blue Jackets, I’m calling the Blackhawks to see what it would take to get Strome. If the price is too high then just hang up the phone. Otherwise I’m pursuing a former 50-point scorer who could instantly help this team in an area of desperate need.
Strome would be an improvement. Therefore the Blue Jackets should pursue him.
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I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.