It's rare you win your league's scoring title as an 18-year-old and somehow wind up being the second most touted played on your team. That was this past season for Dylan Strome in one sweeping generalization.
Strome was a force for an Erie Otters team that was consistently in the spotlight thanks to captain Connor McDavid. With 129 points in 68 games, Strome captured the OHL's scoring title in the last game of the season with a six-point effort. The total was over triple what he put up his rookie season when he recorded 39 points in 60 games. He followed his stellar sophomore campaign up in the playoffs with 22 points in 19 games.
In sum, it was a prolific offensive season.
Hockey Canada likely has Strome on their radar for the 2016 World Juniors. He took part in the 2013-14 U-17 tournament and posted five goals and 11 points in five games.
When evaluating Strome's game, it's hard not to be reminded of players like Ryan Getzlaf or John Tavares. Centremen who own large frames and are supremely gifted on the offensive side of the puck. Strome checks in at 6-foot-3, 187 pounds and uses his size to his advantage. He is strong on the puck, holds possession well and finds teammates with good decision making ability. Of his 124 points this season, 84 were assists.
Despite having such obvious ability, Strome has had a couple of prominent knocks against his game. The first criticism is his skating. It's clear he'll never be a burner in the NHL but Strome is steady on his feet and agile. Many will recall Getzlaf and Tavares both had their skating criticized when they entered the League. Calder Trophy finalist Mark Stone slipped to the sixth round in large part because of his skating. He led the NHL in takeaways this season. Skating is something you can improve.
The second critique of Strome isn't so much a critique as it is an obvious context: The McDavid Effect. Pundits often wonder aloud how Strome's numbers would look if he didn't play with Connor McDavid. The answer? Pretty good. McDavid and Strome weren't linemates outside of special teams this season for the vast majority of the season. Moreover, Strome continued to score at a high clip while McDavid was out of the lineup due to injury and international duty.
Strome's potential as a big first line is too high for the vast majority of teams to pass up. Expect him to be selected between the third and sixth picks.