CHICAGO -- Dylan Strome is entering this season with a lot of confidence.
It's understandable, considering the forward is coming off a strong first season with the Chicago Blackhawks, who acquired him and forward Brendan Perlini in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes for forward Nick Schmaltz on Nov. 25, 2018. Strome scored 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) in 58 games with the Blackhawks, a massive jump from the 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) he had in 48 games from 2016-18 with the Coyotes.
"I definitely I feel like I solidified myself as an NHLer," Strome said at the annual Blackhawks Convention on Friday. "But that doesn't mean you stop working. Obviously, you're expected to do things, now that people know you can do them."
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Indeed, the 22-year-old delivered the production expected of him when the Coyotes took him with the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Now he's looking to do it again, and hopefully help the Blackhawks get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing out the past two seasons.
"I'm looking forward to it," Strome said. "I think the way things ended off, we were starting to really pick up some traction and I think everyone was getting familiar with each other. I think we're looking forward to next year and hopefully can kind of finish off, starting next season the way we finished off last season."
Strome is spending this summer in Chicago, where he's training with best friend and Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat. Strome and DeBrincat first found great chemistry and production when they were linemates with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League from 2014-16. Strome had 240 points (82 goals, 158 assists) in those two seasons and DeBrincat had 205 points (102 goals, 103 assists).
"I'm impressed he wanted to stay and train with Alex," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "If anything, it was a good model, watching the way Alex stayed a year ago, and he had 41 goals. I don't know if it was only that reason, but he trained hard and he showed that it paid off for him. So I think that friendship with those two helps."
DeBrincat, who had 76 points (41 goals, 35 assists) last season, said working with Strome in the summer will benefit them both. It's likely the two will start the season together, possibly on the second line with forward Patrick Kane.
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"We're obviously going for the same goal," DeBrincat said. "It's just good to be together for the summer, even practice a little bit is good, too. doesn't take that period at the beginning of the season to kind of get your chemistry back. You already kind of have it. I think it's good for us to both be here."
Strome is also working with team strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman.
"It's not like I didn't do conditioning before, but it's just a lot more of it and pretty much every day," Strome said. "I'm just trying to build for the season. It's not so much anticipation of what I'm going to do, [how many minutes] I'm going to play. But it's a long season and you have to be well conditioned, so that in February, March April and hopefully beyond that, you're still feeling pretty good."
The Blackhawks are hoping Strome can build on the productive first season in Chicago.
"He comes in in the middle of the year, there's not a lot of time to really think, you just get thrown into it," Bowman said of Strome. "So now things start working, they start clicking and he starts getting some offense going and his confidence takes off. From that side of it, you hope this is just the beginning of something great."