As the NHL season remains paused for the foreseeable future, Elliotte Friedman reported yesterday on Sportsnet that Blackhawks center Dylan Strome is available for a potential trade, as he is set to become a restricted free agent at the season’s conclusion. He was acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes that sent Nick Schmaltz to the desert in exchange for Brendan Perlini and Strome in November of 2018. Chicago had a 32-30-8 record in 70 games played this season under head coach Jeremy Colliton and were 6-4 in their last 10 games before the stoppage.
In his first full season with the Blackhawks, Dylan Strome was 5th on the team in points (38), 6th in goals (12), 4th in assists (26), 8th in +/- (+1), 6th in penalty taken/drawn ratio (8:11), 8th in giveaway/takeaway ratio (26:30), and had the 6th best AB score on the team (+0.63). Strome was one of eight positive players out of twenty-two for the Blackhawks this season. Under coach Jeremy Colliton, Strome got a slight minutes increase in 2019-20, as he earned about twenty-three seconds more ice time than his previous career average of 15:33.
The Blackhawks have $74.146 million committed to their 2020-21 roster according to CapFriendly, with only $7.35 million remaining to sign Strome, rookie sensation Dominik Kubalik, Drake Caggiula, Slater Koekkoek, Malcolm Subban, and Corey Crawford. It is clear goaltending is a real issue in Chicago and has been for a few seasons now, some of that $7.35 million will be spent on a goalie. However, the salary cap is expected to increase this offseason which would be a tremendous gift for the Blackhawks for this reason. We ran Kubalik and Strome through our arbitration analyzer to determine an estimate of what the Blackhawks may have to pay to retain their services. We determined that a comparable player to Kubalik is Andre Burakovsky’s last deal of $3.5 million, and a comparable player to Strome is Christian Dvorak’s deal of $4.45 million. Therefore, we think that the Blackhawks will need to spend roughly spend $8 million combined to keep these two players that should be a huge part of the team’s future.
When hearing Elliotte Friedman’s report, it sounded like the Blackhawks see Kirby Dach’s emergence as a legit NHL center, as an excuse to make Strome expendable because he will cost too much money to re-sign. However, Chicago has several bad contracts for low AB players. Instead of trading Dylan Strome, who is a good, young, positive player, why don’t the Blackhawks attempt to move one of Zach Smith (-2.67 AB, $3.25 million salary), or Andrew Shaw (-3.07 AB, $3.9 million salary). They could also consider not re-signing Slater Koekkoek (-2.68 AB, RFA), or Drake Caggiula (-0.75 AB, RFA) in favor of Strome and Kubalik. We think that the Blackhawks rebuild is finally heading in the right direction and that trading Dylan Strome would be a huge mistake for those reasons.