I'm all for practical jokes, but this isn't funny, guys.
Wait. This is real?
#Isles Transaction: Ryan Strome has been loaned to Bridgeport.— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 6, 2015
Talked to Strome last week about needing a kick in the pants. Said he's the type of player who needs that sometimes. Just got a big kick.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) November 6, 2015
It's not exactly a secret that there's been something a little "off" about Ryan Strome's game so far this season. With only one goal and four assists, Strome hasn't matched or exceeded the pace he set last season, when he finished with 50 points on 17 goals and 33 assists.
But Strome is hardly the only Islander struggling to score recently. Even before John Tavares missed three games with a really bad flu, the offense hasn't looked particularly good, with only Tavares, Kyle Okposo and maybe Frans Nielsen about where you'd expect a top nine forward to be around this time.
Strome also battled that same flu that Tavares had, before giving it to his housemate (allegedly). Update: I had already forgotten about Strome's healthy scratching a few weeks ago, but Analytical Arthur Staple reminded me in his write-up of this evening's move.
Also, there is some team precedence here going back to 2010, when the Islanders sent Josh Bailey to the Sound Tigers in his third year in the NHL. Bailey played five games and looked very much like an NHL player playing against AHLers.
Still, demoting Strome seems like a very, very, very extreme measure to take. Sure, dropping down a level might ease some pressure and help him find his game again. Or it could damage his confidence in ways that would be less productive in the long run. All we can do from this vantage point is hope it's the former. Dear god, please be the former.
The Islanders were counting on Strome taking that next step this season. Now they need to hope a step down leads to the stepping up.
The Sound Tigers have two games this weekend: Saturday night versus Springfield and Sunday evening versus Hartford. The Islanders play Boston on Sunday evening before heading for the west coast to face the Sharks, Kings and Ducks next week. My guess - although who the hell knows what's even going on anymore - is that Strome is on that trip after a brief two-game retreat as a Sound Tiger.
In the meantime, enjoy Steve Bernier. I know I won't.