Even with a generational talent in Connor McDavid as a teammate, Dylan Strome was able to distinguish himself and earn billing among the top prospects heading into the 2015 NHL Draft.
Strome, a Canadian, left-shooting center, captured the Ontario Hockey League’s scoring title after recording 129 points (45g, 84a) in 68 games and set Erie Otters records for assists and points in a single season.
These numbers weren’t just the result of Strome feeding off the unbelievable offensive production machine that was McDavid; while McDavid was out with injury and playing for Team Canada in the World Juniors, Strome continued to find the scoresheet with regularity and helped Erie to a 50-14-2-2 record (104 points) and a first-place finish in the Midwest Division.
“He had stretches of play when McDavid was out that he rose to the occasion,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes’ lead amateur scout. “He generated a lot of offense. He’s a very smart and creative player, a very cerebral type of player. The hockey IQ is off the charts.”
|HOMETOWN: MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO |
|HEIGHT: 6'3" |
|WEIGHT: 185 |
|BIRTHDAY: MARCH 7, 1997 (AGE 18) |
Strome captured the OHL scoring title on the last day of the regular season, as he posted a career-high four goals and six points in Erie’s 8-7 victory over the Niagara IceDogs to supplant fellow top prospect Mitch Marner for first place in the scoring race.
A Mississauga, Ont., native, Strome also possesses a strong hockey pedigree. His older brother, Ryan, was drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2011, and his younger brother, Matthew, was drafted in the first round of the OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Hamilton Bulldogs and will make his OHL debut next season.
“He knows what’s involved,” MacDonald said of the middle, NHL Draft-eligible Strome. “There are no surprises out there for him. He’s a hockey guy who has grown up in that hockey environment.”
If there is a knock on the 18-year-old forward, it is his skating ability. With a lanky 6-foot-3 and 185-pound frame, Strome will look to add leg strength to improve his on-ice mobility.
“He doesn’t have great speed at this point in time. It’s not technically that he’s a bad skater, it’s just probably that he’s a taller and lankier guy at this point in time,” MacDonald noted. “When he fills out the frame, increased leg strength will come along with that physical maturation. Long-term it’s probably nothing to be really concerned about.
“In terms of his progression going forward, it might take him a little bit longer to get where he wants to go, but there’s no question that he will get there.”
Short-term apprehension with his skating ability aside, Strome’s oh-so-enticing blend of size and skill down the middle will, in all likelihood, lead to him being among the top forwards selected on June 26.