Stay away from Ryan Strome

The Buffalo Sabers will open their free agency with the rest of the NHL on Wednesday, July 13. Ryan Strome could be a potential target.

Ryan Strome is a player who could immediately become a potential second-line center for the Buffalo Sabers if the team were to sign him in free agency. And while I like Strome and his recent production (54 points in 74 games), I also have reservations about the 29-year-old.

For one thing, signing Strome would cost the Sabers millions in cap space. He has played on a $4.5 million AAV ($5 million base salary) over the past two seasons. And given its production in 2021-2022, you can expect that number to increase significantly as it will most likely require a more lucrative, long-term deal.

Why the Buffalo Sabers should stay away from Ryan Strome

If there’s one free agent Kevyn Adams should invest $5 million and more in, it would be a defender on the second pair. As a center, Strome doesn’t fit that mold. Additionally, the Sabers also have young centers in Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt, who I think they want to see more of in 2022-23 before adding someone else to the roster at the position.

Plus, if the Sabers are looking to save money to retain their own talent like Tage Thompson, for example, signing a 29-year-old free agent like Strome for at least $6 million a year doesn’t make sense on the logistics plan. If the Sabers were closer to the argument and Strome acted as the final piece of the puzzle, then it would be a no-brainer.

Still, since the Sabers want to retain their young core players for the long term, Strome will simply cost too much. Especially if general manager Kevyn Adams wants to invest a bigger sum in a defender who can help not just Owen Power, but the young defensive rotation as a whole.

Expect the $5-6 million price to go towards what will most likely be an RHD as opposed to a forward. It doesn’t matter how talented Strome has. Strome will be a productive player he will sign with. It just won’t, and shouldn’t, in Buffalo.

Christy J. Olson