In the ongoing Chicago Blackhawks teardown, another young(ish) forward is about to walk out the door. Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that Dylan Strome is not expected to receive a qualifying offer next week, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. The deadline to submit qualifying offers is July 11.
For those who have watched Strome’s up-and-down tenure with the Blackhawks since arriving in 2018, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The team has been trying to trade the center for quite some time, even despite his strong offensive production in the back half of this season.
Strome, 25, would be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent if the Blackhawks did extend him the $3.6MM qualifying offer he would need, making him a pricey asset. That is the same number that any acquiring team would need to hand out, which may explain why no one would want to give up a prime asset for him at this point–especially knowing that Chicago will likely be walking away.
His addition to the free agent pool is interesting though, as Strome has always shown great offensive ability. Even this year, between stints in the press box as a healthy scratch, he managed to rack up 22 goals and 48 points in 69 games. It’s the rest of his game that has been criticized since he entered the league and the thing that has kept him from fulfilling the promise he once held as the third-overall pick in 2015. The Blackhawks basically refused to start him in the defensive zone this year, with only Patrick Kane and Erik Gustafsson receiving a higher percentage of offensive zone starts.
Still, for a team that is desperate for offense, there’s little doubt that he can provide it. In 225 games for Chicago, Strome racked up 60 goals and 154 points, an 82-game rate that would result in 22 goals and 56 points. In other situations, he might be looking at a long-term extension with a big dollar figure, instead of being cut loose without a qualifying offer.