For fans of the Arizona Coyotes, missing out on the top two prizes of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is disappointing. Though Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will find homes in Edmonton and Buffalo, the Coyotes will still add a key piece to their rebuild when they step up to the podium with the third overall selection.
Thus, with the third pick in SB Nation's Mock NHL Draft, Five For Howling selects Dylan Strome as the center of the future for the Desert Dogs.
Dylan Strome, Center, Erie Otters (OHL)
2014-15 Stats: 68 GP, 45 G, 84 A, 32 PIMs
2015 Playoff Stats: 19 GP, 10 G, 12 A, 12 PIMs
It is a truly rare set of circumstances that Dylan Strome could lead the entire CHL in scoring and yet not even be considered the best center on his team. But even McDavid's otherworldly skills have not diminished Strome's own talents.
Strome averaged 1.9 points per game in the OHL this season, higher than any other player the Coyotes have drafted that played at the highest level of junior hockey. (Kyle Turris, Arizona's last 3rd overall pick, averaged 2.28 points in his draft year, but he played in Canada's second tier in the BCHL.)
The Mississauga, Ont. native earned high marks for both his goal scoring and his playmaking ability. With highly talented players in the pipeline for the Coyotes, Strome is exactly the kind of center the team needs.
Strome's head coach in Erie, Kris Knoblauch, is one of Strome's biggest supporters, and believes his skillset will translate well to the NHL.
"He's incredibly smart, he's very competitive," Knoblauch said. "He's naturally more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, not that he can't score goals, but he's excellent setting up his teammates."
The Erie center may not immediately make the jump to the NHL though; his skating still needs work, and he remains slightly underweight for his frame at 6'3, 185 pounds. The Coyotes may prefer to give him a year to improve his skating ability and to get stronger.
But Strome will make the decision to keep him down in major-junior very difficult. And with players like Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, and Anthony Duclair emerging as wingers of the future, the Arizona Coyotes are well on their way to developing one of the most potent young offenses in the NHL.