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Top 25 Under 25: Dylan Strome has a lot to prove at #7

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Strome has everything against him and a lot to prove in the upcoming NHL season, but has the skill set and potential to shine

Arizona Coyotes v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

#7 - Dylan Strome - Center

Where Did He Come From? - Drafted at #3 overall by Arizona Coyotes in 2015 NHL Draft

Rank in last year’s 21 under 21? #2

Has He Played in the NHL?: Yes, 7 games in 2016, before being sent back to juniors prior to the 10 game threshold, which would burn a year off of his ELC.

About Dylan Strome:

At this point, it feels like all that Coyotes fans talk about is the conundrum that is Dylan Strome. A talented center drafted high in 2015, the fans and the Coyotes organization all had equally high expectations of how Strome would progress and eventually break into the NHL. The thing is, it hasn’t quite happened yet.

Strome was taken high in a stacked draft year, with the likes of Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mitchell Marner, and Noah Hanifin joining him in the top 5. Out of the 5, 3 of them played in the NHL right out of the gates and had mostly successful rookie seasons, setting the bar high for the rest of the 2015 draft class and for draft classes to come. A bar that, until recent draft years, wasn’t the norm. Now, 2 years post-draft, Strome is the lone wolf out of that 2015 top 5 that hasn’t yet made it to the big leagues full-time.

That being said, if you look at the statistics, he has all the tools. Strome comes with a solid foundation and a more-than-spectacular OHL resume.

Dylan Strome Regular Season Stats via ontariohockeyleague.com
Dylan Strome Playoffs Stats via ontariohockeyleague.com

Referring to the stats shown above, Dylan Strome has had an incredibly solid OHL career. In fact, Strome was voted the 2017 CHL Memorial Cup MVP and posted 7 goals and 4 assists for 11 points, setting a new tournament record for goals scored in one game. He also advanced in points-per-game each season, scoring more points in fewer games as the years progressed. Strome only played 35 games in the 2016-17 OHL season after his demotion from the NHL, but was still 17th overall in points with a total of 75, having played half the amount of games as his peers. And though his 7 game NHL “debut” in 2016 may not have been the magic showing that fans were expecting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Coyotes fans shouldn’t be excited about his potential.

While Strome’s skating still needs work, he brings plenty of other upsides and a huge skill set to work with. A hard, accurate shot, solid faceoff winning capabilities, smart playmaking ability, and a good sense of where his linemates are on the ice. In the FFH 21 Under 21 series last year, Brendan Porter shared some of the other assets that Strome brings:

His strongest asset is his intellectual ability; ask teammates and scouts what they like about Strome, and terms like "vision", "hockey sense," and "creativity" all come up. Those are the ingredients for success in the NHL.

To top it all of, Strome is a leader. He was an assistant captain for McDavid in 2014-15 and wore the C himself for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, even after his delayed return to Erie in 2016. Strome also captained Team Canada to World Junior Championship silver in 2017.

What does the future hold for Dylan Strome?:

The biggest mystery with Dylan Strome is where does he fit? If he’s progressed and raised his skating ability, Strome has the opportunity to assert himself somewhere down the middle of the Coyotes lineup, hopefully in the 2nd or 3rd line range. If not, there could be possible AHL time in Strome’s future. And while that wouldn't be a bad thing - AHL development time could do him some good - we’d all prefer to see him full-time in the NHL.

Yet we still can’t forget Strome’s 2016 NHL debut. While not wholly successful, it was more of a learning experience than anything for Strome. With such a small sample size, there’s no real telling information on how Strome’s game will translate to NHL level until he’s had a full season under his belt. Among his CHL peers, Strome is one of the best of the best, now he just needs to prove it on NHL ice.