At the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Arizona Coyotes selected Dylan Strome with the third overall pick. He was one of the most highly touted prospects throughout the league, and many teams were sorry that they missed out on him. He debuted in professional hockey in the 2012-2013 season with the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget AAA Team of the GTMMHL. He wore the “C” with them for the year, serving as captain. Strome recorded a whopping 143 points (65 goals and 78 assists) in just 60 games. He averaged over two points per game and was named GTHL player of the year.
The next season, he moved up to the Erie Otters of the OHL. In his rookie season there, he notched 39 points (10 goals and 29 assists) in 60 games. The next season, Strome really broke out. In the beginning of the season, he was given the role of alternate captain and an “A” was stitched onto his jersey. He put up a total of 129 points (45 goals and 84 assists) in 68 games. He set franchise records for the Otters in assists and points in a season. In his final game of the season, he secured the league’s scoring title with a six-point performance. He edged out then London Knight, now Toronto Maple Leaf, Mitch Marner for the title. This is obviously an outstanding season, and it put Strome on the radar of many NHL teams, most notably the Arizona Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs. That summer was when he was drafted by the Coyotes.
In the fall of 2015, he geared up for the next Erie Otters season, being named the captain of the squad. Strome had another amazing season, notching 37 goals and 74 assists for a total of 111 points. That next season, he had his first experience in the NHL. Expectations were through the roof. Unfortunately, he didn’t exactly live up to the predictions that were set for him. Strome played in seven games at the beginning of the 2016-2017 NHL season. He even got to face his brother Ryan Strome, then a member of the New York Islanders, on October 21st, 2016. As he watched his brother score a goal while he was on the ice with him, that wasn’t the worst part of his stint in the league. He failed to score a goal and only had one assist (his first NHL point), as well as a -5 rating. He was sent back down to the OHL, where he wore the “C” for the Otters once again.
In that season, Strome scored 22 goals and 53 assists for a total of 75 points in just 35 games. His team went on to win the OHL Championship, the Robertson Cup. He came into the 2017-2018 season with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, which some people thought would help him. But, alas, after two scoreless games with the Coyotes, he was bumped down once again. However, this time, he couldn’t have been shipped out to juniors. Strome is now a member of the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate. So far, in one game played, he already has two points, both coming as assists and a +1 rating.
This game of bouncing back and forth between leagues leaves fans with one question: why? Strome had been a superstar in juniors, but can’t seem to get it done in the big leagues. It’s a predicament that troubles fans, as well as probably Strome himself. So, what’s happening?
The thing is, Strome just isn’t at NHL playing level yet, and it really shouldn’t be a problem. Yes, he was a first-round pick, even a top-five pick, let alone a top-three pick, so expectations are extremely high. But there’s nothing wrong with needing to develop skill. Strome’s main problems seem to be making himself more noticeable on the ice, skating better, thinking more quickly, and improving his speed. The AHL is a perfect place for him to perfect these skills, and he should be back in the NHL sooner rather than later.
Additionally, Strome aims to be a playmaker rather than a flashy, all-out goalscorer. More than two-thirds of his total points accumulated in the AHL came as assists. Strome’s linemates should be carefully selected, because their ability to finish and score goals, or lack thereof, could heavily impact his success.
What some people still seem to forget is that Strome is still only 20 years old. He has time to make the NHL and should take that time to properly grow and develop. After all, an underprepared player in the NHL would probably be a worse situation than a prospering player in the AHL. When all is said and done, Dylan Strome will always be a top three pick in the NHL Entry Draft, and that’s something that no one can take away from him. Whether he will make it in the big leagues still remains to be seen, but it seems as if he is on the right track thus far.
What are your thoughts on Dylan Strome? Is he going to make it in the NHL? Make sure you sound off by tweeting us: @PuckItUpBlog.
Want to read another article about prospects looking to make the jump to the NHL? Click here.