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NHL Draft

Matthew Strome offers size, strength around net

Biggest of three hockey-playing brothers toughened at young age

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2017 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Hamilton left wing Matthew Strome is the biggest and strongest of the Strome siblings in his draft-eligible season.

At 6-foot-4, 206 pounds, the left-handed shot doesn't hesitate to make that fact known when asked about it. New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome (6-0, 192) and Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome (6-3, 185) wouldn't dare contradict their little brother.

"He's kind of like a brute; that's what we call him," Ryan Strome said with a grin. "When you have a 6-4 body, you kind of have to play that way. He gets to the front of the net, creates space for himself. He's a big boy so that's kind of the role he plays. He plays a strong power game because he knows how to get around the net."

Hamilton coach John Gruden feels that in addition to being an intelligent player, Strome does present some nastiness in his game. Strome ranked second on the Bulldogs with 62 penalty minutes.

"He'll go to the dirty areas, and is not afraid to stick up for teammates," Gruden said. "He's got bite and it's probably a little bit of getting beat up by his brothers for all those years."

Strome is No. 33 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft. Ryan Strome was No. 8 on Central Scouting's final list in 2011, and Dylan was No. 4 in 2015.

Matthew Strome provides a strong offensive presence and ability to finish around the net. He led Hamilton with 62 points (34 goals, 28 assists) and 10 power-play goals in 66 regular-season games. He was second with eight points (one goal, seven assists) in seven OHL playoff games, and was voted the second-smartest player in the Eastern Conference coaches poll for 2016-17.

"The younger we go in the Strome family tree, the bigger they get," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "Matthew is one of the strongest players down low, protecting and cycling the puck. He's got excellent hockey IQ and knows how to get open. He's always going to be a scoring threat and he's a proven finisher."

Growing up in the Strome household in Mississauga, Ontario, wasn't always easy for Matthew.

"Matt was always fighting for space and fighting for his hierarchy in the family," Ryan Strome said. "I think he and my brother were the ones who really went at it because they were only two years apart. I remember them just killing each other."

Matthew usually served as the goalie when the three brothers played road hockey.

"I'd be the one getting shots fired at me," Matthew said. "I think it helped me get to where I am now, toughened me up. I know I can take [stuff] from anybody and play back hard.

"My brothers are having amazing careers, and just from watching them with how they play and the things they do, I just try to feed off that stuff."

The one area the youngest Strome seeks improvement is his skating.

"I know what it takes; both my brothers were criticized for their skating and they worked extremely hard to get to where they are now, so I'm going to do the same thing and keep working every day in the summer," he said.

Gruden has seen the work Strome has put in to become a well-rounded skater.

"People need to understand he has the pedigree of two other brothers who were high-end, who have played at a high level in the OHL, and Matthew scored at a great clip," Gruden said. "You look at [Los Angeles Kings center] Tyler Toffoli and [Anaheim Ducks right wing] Corey Perry, who slipped because of skating.

"At the end of the day, you can't teach goal scoring and where Matthew is projected, it's a no-brainer. His upside is so high; someone is going to get a really good player."

Strome averaged 18-20 minutes of ice time and skated most of the season with center Niki Petti and right wing Matt Luff [Los Angeles Kings].

"Do I think there's pressure on him? Absolutely I do but there's pressure on all these athletes, whether you have two brothers or not," Gruden said. "To me, though, there's almost less pressure when you have brothers in it, are part of it and can help you with struggles and successes. I'm sure there's pressure but he's a great kid and I don't see him showing pressure. He has a smile on his face 24 hours a day, he loves going to the rink. He's as fun a kid as you can have on your team."

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