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Matthew Strome creating own path to NHL

Forward prospect wants to follow brothers Dylan, Ryan to League but on his terms

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Matthew Strome doesn't need to be reminded.

Yes, his older brother, Dylan, was the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, by the Arizona Coyotes.

Yes, his oldest brother, Ryan, was selected by the New York Islanders with the No. 5 pick in the 2011 draft.

And with family history well established, Matthew, 17 and eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft, is going to use his name as an advantage, not a burden.

"People are always going to have their speculations on that and being the youngest brother, they're always going to compare me to them," Matthew said earlier this month at Canada's Ivan Hlinka selection camp. "I take that as an advantage. That means they're looking at me. I just have to show them what I can do myself, and what's different and the same about me.

"Even going into last year, there were a lot of comparisons. I think with my family support, with both of my brothers supporting me … they tell me to keep cool and keep calm and play my game and make my own name for myself, instead of following in their footsteps."

Matthew, a left wing, won't be evaluated on his surname but on his performance.

"You don't want to attach any labels," said Dan Marr, NHL director of central scouting. "You don't want to put them on any pedestals. You want to keep your expectations in check. Everybody's different. He's going to be judged by what he does on the ice and nothing more. Nothing more. Nothing less."

In that, the early considerations are positive for the youngest Strome brother.

After a 16-goal, 22-assist rookie season with Hamilton of the Ontario Hockey League last season, he was named to the NHL Central Scouting Futures List for North America and Europe in July.

It's the first step on the path to becoming the next Strome selected in the NHL draft.

"I think it's in the back of my mind," said Matthew, drafted No. 8 in the OHL Priority Selection in 2015. "That's always going to be in the back of my mind throughout the whole year. It was last year. I think I'm just focused on what the team does and how the team overall plays. It's going to be in the back of my mind, so I might take a look [at rankings] here or there. But whatever is best for the team is going to be best to me."

Strome has plenty of people to lean on should he need to bend an ear. He already has gone about divvying up the different responsibilities too.

"Dylan (19) just went through it a couple years ago," he said. "It's more in his mind. If I have a question on how Ryan (23) adapted to the League, I can ask him because he's already gone through it and has been there for a couple years. Also, I can ask Dylan what's the transition for a development camp from the OHL and to rookie camp and to main camp. They've been a big help to me, both when I was younger and up until now. I'm sure they'll help me through this."

It's a reasonable expectation leading into his draft year, and the third draft he'll attend. At age 11, he saw Ryan, a center, selected by the Islanders, and at 16, he watched when Dylan, also a center, was chosen by the Coyotes.

"Going to two drafts and seeing both your brothers get drafted really high in the draft, it definitely puts a lot of pressure on him," Dylan said of Matthew. "But I think he enjoys it. He definitely likes making a name for himself. I'm really happy he's doing well for himself. Going through the draft process twice and seeing his brothers go just makes him want to do so much better, that much more."

Still, Matthew is mature enough to know to keep his expectations in check. He learned that from his brothers.

"Just the emotions going into it … some guys go there and don't even get drafted," he said. "You just have to stay humble and know that anything can happen. If you're projected to go top five, you might go late first round. You never know what's going to happen. You have to be ready for anything."

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