Rangers’ Ryan Strome contract dilemma far from resolved

Regarding the Rangers, who will jump from the draft into the free-agent pool on Friday:

1. Hours before the deadline for qualifying offers, management decided that it would be folly to allow Ryan Strome, their third-leading scorer, to get away for nothing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the decision will go down that same way if No. 16 gets an arbitration award that is too rich for the Blueshirts’ blood.

There is the tendency to harp on what players can’t do or are not. Strome isn’t big, isn’t particularly fast, isn’t the best at the dots or away from the puck. But he finished 25th among NHL centers with 0.84 points per game and 18th with 0.59 assists per. Strome may not be a prototypical second-line center, but those are first-line numbers. He’s going to have a strong case in arbitration that could earn him at least $4.75 million.

The fact is the Rangers have been trying to trade for a center and were unable to pull it off as the qualifying-offer deadline neared. They will continue to pursue what they believe is an upgrade in the middle for Artemi Panarin’s line. If Strome’s arbitration award is too rich for the Blueshirts’ blood, that’s the time they’ll walk away.

2. The Lias Andersson fiasco is over, the seventh-overall selection of the 2017 draft sent to the Kings, for whom his dad, Niklas, is a scout, in exchange for the 60th-overall pick Wednesday. The Blueshirts used that pick to nab Windsor power winger William Cullye, who said he models his game after Tom Wilson.

Heads!

But without belaboring the point, the Rangers had Andersson all wrong, not only selecting him in that spot, but misidentifying his attributes. They grabbed him that high for his character, his leadership skills and because they thought he was NHL-ready. They could not have been more wrong.

You can play the blame game forever — or for as long as this second day of the draft lasted, which, come to think of it, was forever — but there is no point now.

The best decision the Rangers made in conjunction with Andersson was to allow him to play in the SHL after he went AWOL from the Wolf Pack in December. The soon-to-be 22-year-old’s work in Sweden elevated his profile and enabled the Blueshirts to salvage a second-rounder for him.

3. The trade up to select right defenseman Braden Schneider at 19th overall creates a potential future logjam on that side, with Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox and Tony DeAngelo varsity incumbents and Nils Lundkvist operating in Sweden.

General manager Jeff Gorton said there’d already been discussions about moving one of the righties to the off-side, where there is a vacancy created by the trade of Marc Staal to Detroit. DeAngelo played a fair amount on the left side through his junior career.

“We have talked about moving Tony and we’ve talked about our right side and who is the best person to move over there,” Gorton said. “I don’t think it’s going to be [Trouba], so we’ve talked about [Fox] and Tony in these ongoing conversations, trying to get them more ice time. We have a very talented right side that can move the puck and we do have two guys we think are very capable.

“Actually our organization thinks we have a young player in Sweden [Lundkvist] that can play on the off-side, too. We’re pretty comfortable they can do it and we’ve had a lot of conversations about that, moving forward for next year.”

4. The Blueshirts did not qualify Ryan Gropp, the left wing the team chose with the 41st-overall selection of the 2015 draft obtained from Anaheim as part of the package for Carl Hagelin. It was one of the most haphazardly constructed trades in memory, then-general manager Glen Sather pulling the deal on a moment’s notice on the draft floor.

Gropp, 24, never played a game for the Blueshirts. Emerson Etem, the other piece of the package, played 19 games.

Oh, baby.

5. Six of the seven skaters drafted by the Rangers are North American. That’s not a coincidence.

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