But when it came down to crafting the 23-man roster for the 2015-16 season, Coyotes management decided the No. 3 pick in this year’s NHL Draft would be better served maturing via another season of junior hockey and, presumably, competing in the prestigious IIHF World Junior Championship in December/January.
"Dylan had a terrific training camp," General Manager Don Maloney told me. "However, he is still a very young man who will be able to mature away from the NHL spotlight. He has all the ingredients we like in a player – intelligent, competitive and skilled. He simply needs more time to work on his strength and quickness. He will be an important player for us in the future."
Strome played extremely well in rookie camp and then well enough to stay in camp with the veterans up until the last day. But Tippett said Strome leveled off during the last few preseason games in which he played, and on Friday vs. San Jose, against a nearly complete NHL lineup, it became clear he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump.
Tippett spoke with Strome on Sunday morning before the news of his demotion was announced. He said Strome understood the situation and took it in stride.
“He knows this is just part of the process for him,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “He’s going to have a great future ahead of him. He’s an excellent young player and you love the passion he has for the game.”
A few days ago, I asked Coyotes captain Shane Doan if he, like Tippett, sensed Strome’s passion for hockey.
“I think he’s awesome,” Doan said. “I think he’s a great kid…and I think he plays hockey because he loves it, not just because he’s an unbelievable player. That’s a big thing.”
Doan and Strome played on the same line in two preseason games. During those games Strome set Doan up for scoring chances a few times which Doan noted and, or course, appreciated.
“He’s really, really smart,” Doan said. “He’s in the right areas. Offensively, he makes 5- and 6-foot passes and holds onto the puck at the right time and moves the puck at the right time.”
Strome led the Ontario Hockey League in scoring with 129 points last season in 68 games. He is expected to be among OHL leaders again playing for the Erie Otters.
On Sunday, he quickly turned the page via Twitter: