All that Coyotes fans seem to say and think about when prospect Dylan Strome is brought up is how he underperformed when he was up with the NHL club this season.
While that may be true in some ways, everything happens for a reason. As Tom Hunter pointed out in his article about Strome’s success in the Memorial Cup tournament, Strome being sent back down to the OHL was likely John Chayka and the Coyotes’ plan all along. These past few draft years have been a fluke in the sense of players starting in the NHL right out of the gate. Fans tend to forget that this is not the norm and that it’s usually in the NHL team’s development plan to send players back down to nurture their game.
And for Dylan Strome, this was the best decision the Arizona Coyotes could have made for his career. His time up with the Coyotes was well spent, learning the system, the coaches, seeing first hand what areas in his game he needed to work on, and he took all of that knowledge with him back to the OHL’s Erie Otters.
Let’s just say, he took that knowledge and used it well. Strome donned the C and captained the Otters to an OHL Championship and a CHL Memorial Cup run that, although it ended up in heartbreak when they lost 4-3 to the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, was historical and record-breaking in its own right.
But let’s break down Strome’s numbers and see where he stood against his peers.
Dylan Strome 2016-17 OHL Regular Season
For someone who only played 35 regular season OHL games, 75 points, a 2.14 points-per-game average, and a 60% FOW percentage is absolutely crazy. Even with just 75 points, Strome finished 17th in OHL regular season scoring.
The really telling numbers though, are the projections of what his totals could have been had he played a full OHL season.
Dylan Strome Projected 2016-17 OHL Regular Season
That’s right. 43 G, 103 A, for a total of 146 points in 68 games. With that 146 points, Dylan Strome would have led all of the OHL in points for the regular season by 19 points, with his Erie teammates Alex DeBrincat (Blackhawks) in second at 127 points and Taylor Raddysh (Lightning) in third with 107 points. He would have led the OHL in assists too, with Otter’s teammate Taylor Raddysh coming in second with 67 assists, 36 behind Strome’s projected 103.
Granted these are projections and math isn’t perfect, it doesn’t take into account injuries or bad puck luck games and etc., but it shows strong evidence of just how dominant Dylan Strome was and has been in juniors.
That’s not even taking into account his 2017 OHL playoffs statistics:
Dylan Strome 2017 OHL Playoffs
Strome came in second in OHL playoff points with 34 in 22 games, just 4 behind teammate DeBrincat (Chicago), and had a FOW percentage of 58%.
Or even his Memorial Cup performance:
Dylan Strome 2017 Memorial Cup
His Memorial Cup stats are even better, with 2.20 points per game and a FOW percentage of 68%, not to mention his record-breaking 7 point (4 G, 3 A) game against the Saint John Sea Dogs. Strome was also named the Memorial Cup Tournament MVP and tied teammate Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay) for Tournament Leading Scorer with 11 points.
Just goes to show that in high-pressure situations, Dylan Strome can still produce at an insanely high level.
Another obvious change has been in his skating ability. It was one of the main aspects of his game that scouts, coaches, and fans have hemmed and hawed over, wondering if it could or can be fixed.
I don’t know about you, but someone with “skating issues” doesn’t make goals like these happen:
There’s an obvious change in his skating ability from last season and even earlier this season, as his numbers and the goal examples above show.
Does he still have work to do to make the jump from OHL juniors to NHL pros? Yes, but Strome has shown that he takes direction and knowledge and puts it to use.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him as the Coyotes #1 or #2 center (a position I’m sure he’ll share with Christian Dvorak) and have a 30-40 goal NHL season in 2017-18. There’s plenty of exciting possibilities of who he could center on the Coyotes current roster; Managing Editor Sarah Hall and I discussed the combination Clayton Keller on his left (a DeBrincat-esque player) and Tobias Rieder on Strome’s right (defensively-minded guy but still a goalscorer) which sounds particularly exciting.
While he still has a way to go, Dylan Strome is sure to be ready for the NHL 2017-18 season and he’ll come out with a vengeance.
Overall Grade: A
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What Grade Would You Give Dylan Strome?
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He’s going to dominate the NHL next year