Move Likely Gives 20-Year-Old Center Opportunity To Play During Olympic Break

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s easy to look at the decision the Islanders made on Wednesday and call it a demotion.

But it’s really not.

The Isles sent top prospect Ryan Strome back to Bridgeport of the AHL, not necessarily because he played poorly during his first foray in the NHL, but because the league sort of forced their hand.

According to Newsday, teams received a memo from the league prior to the season that stated players who play more than a certain number of games in the NHL — believed to be 15 or 20 — cannot be sent down to the AHL during the Olympic break, which runs from Feb. 9-26.

Strome has played in 15 games for the Isles and his statistics suggest he could use the extra work.

“The development of all our young players is important. (Strome) needs to play during the break,” general manager Garth Snow said Wednesday.

The 20-year-old center, who was the No. 5 overall pick by the Islanders back in 2011, had just a goal and three assists during his one-month stay with the big club. Strome, who was tearing up the AHL at the time he was called up, is likely being sent down to regain his scoring touch confidence, in addition to giving the Islanders some needed roster flexibility.

Other than his struggles amassing the obvious statistics, Strome acquitted himself fairly well in those 15 games, getting numerous scoring opportunities and showing great vision with the puck.

The Islanders went 9-4-2 with him in the lineup and 9-19-5 without him.

The Islanders had their seven-game road winning streak snapped Tuesday night in Florida, losing 4-2. Strome did not register a point and was a minus-1 in his 13-plus minutes of ice time. He won 5-of-6 draws and had two shots on goal.

The Islanders have two games left on their six-game road trip — at Tampa Bay on Thursday and at Philadelphia on Saturday, the first of a home-and-home set with the Flyers.

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