When Ryan Strome was traded from the New York Islanders in the summer of 2017 he never imagined he’d be back in New York. Now after parts of four seasons with the New York Rangers, there isn’t anywhere else Strome would rather be than in Manhattan.
The 28-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason with uncertainty surrounding his future in red. white and blue.
“I spent most of my 20s in New York, I’m like an adopted New Yorker,” Strome said on Monday during the team’s locker clean-out day in Westchester. “Obviously my heart’s here. I think the last four years I’ve tried to pour everything into this thing on and off the ice as much as I could. Whatever happens, happens. I can’t predict the future, but I love these guys and I think we have some unfinished business.
“This team is destined for great things in the future, so we’ll see what happens. It’s a little emotional, it’s a great group of guys and I hope there’s more.”
Strome will be a UFA for the first time in his career since he broke into the NHL in 2013 with the Islanders. Strome has had stops on Long Island, Edmonton and back to New York with the Rangers over the course of his career.
The forward had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 19 playoff games this year while dealing with an injury that hindered him during the final games of the Rangers Eastern Conference Final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Strome said that he had been dealing with a lingering issue over the course of the season that he was playing through during the postseason. The forward will find out if he needs surgery on Tuesday for what he described as a pelvis injury that made his groin area and abs feel like he was “playing with a knife in my abs.”
He had tried to play Game 6, but had to leave in the third period because of the ailment. Strome had played in Game 5 after missinng Game 4.
“In hindsight everything is 20/20, but I think that me and a couple other guys would have a lot of regret if we didn’t push through,” Strome said.
Strome is not the only person hopeful that he is back in New York after this season, his current teammates had plenty of positives to say about him. Mika Zibanejad called hima a “character guy” in the Rangers’ locker room.
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“Big leader and knows when to be serious and when to get the guys to loosen up a little bit,” Zibanejad said. “He’s such a big part of our team. He has been since day 1 and he’s such a smart hockey player.”
Strome said that the his camp and the Rangers had some contract negotiations during the year, but the focus had turned to the ice after a bit. He said that he let his agent handle a lot of that during the year so that he could keep his focus on playing hockey.