EDMONTON, AB - This morning, the Edmonton Oilers left for New York.
The start of a three-game stint in the tri-state area before they finish the road trip in Washington. It begins with a game against the New York Islanders. A first one between the two teams since their draft weekend deal that saw Edmonton send Jordan Eberle stateside and get Ryan Strome in return.
As the Oilers spent four hours in the air to get to the Big Apple the trade had to be something the new Oiler was thinking of considering he was on a plane when he first found out a deal had been done on June 22.
"I was flying to Chicago," explained Strome. "I was going to the draft for my brother (Matthew) and I normally don't have my Wi-Fi on. I did and partway through the flight, I saw the deal on Twitter and started getting messages and texts from friends about becoming an Oiler."
It was the end of his days as an Islander. A member of the organization from the late June Friday night in St. Paul, MN, when Strome was chosen fifth overall in the 2011 draft. He was coming off a 106-point season with the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.
It was his beginning on the Island. There were a few American Hockey League stops in Bridgeport but along the way, he played 258 games with NY. He scored 126 points, including 45 goals, before he was traded.
What was it like?
As Strome answered my question of what it was like to be dealt, he went on to add: "It was the first time I had seen the business part of the game," he said. "Good or bad moments (with the Isles), the move was a reality.
"I understood what it meant to be an asset."
It is especially the case when one team has been your only team. Drafted by, played with and grew up as a member of the Islanders. From the time he was 18 until 24 it's all he ever knew.
"You get so ingrained in a culture," said Strome. "There were a lot of ups and downs but I loved my time in New York."
The ups and downs, literally and figuratively, came with three stints in the AHL mixed in with the four seasons he spent with the Islanders. The up came in 2014-15 with a breakout 17 goal and 33 assist season. The down was likely last season when Strome's numbers fell to 13 goals, 17 assists and 30 points. Missing a dozen games didn't help. A negative way to finish but his overall experience was definitely a positive.
"They are some of my best friends for life," said Strome. "They are lifelong friends who were there from the time I made the jump from junior to pro.
"I have a lot of good memories."
While playing in New York Strome didn't live in Manhattan but lived on Long Island even when the team moved it's home games at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. "All the players lived there (Long Island) and when the team changed home rinks," said Strome, "it was only a 35-minute train ride to games from my apartment door to the rink".
The life of an NHL player during the hockey season is a busy one but when you live in NY expect to see some family and friends. "I ended up becoming a tour guide," said Strome. "I had to show people around. It's a beautiful city and I got lots of visitors."
Well, now he's the visitor as Ryan prepares himself for Tuesday night and a Welcome Strome.