2015 NHL Draft Profile #3: Dylan Strome

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In previous years I’ve talked about my draft philosophy that when all else is equal I favour high end forwards over high end defencemen.  The fact remains that defencemen develop later than forwards and draft history shows that great defencemen, and even Norris winners like Nicklas Lidstrom, Duncan Keith, P.K. Subban, Zdeno Chara, Rob Blake and others were taken outside the first round of the NHL draft.  Meanwhile when we look at elite forwards, the lowest drafted Art Ross Trophy winner is Bryan Trottier who was drafted 22nd overall.  The one exception is of course the undrafted Martin St. Louis.  Overall though, while good forwards can be found later in a draft, it is true that finding elite scorers later in the draft is harder than finding an elite defenceman.  For that reason I ranked Jonathan Drouin and Nathan McKinnon ahead of Seth Jones in 2013.  Last year, I explained the philosophy but then said I saw a significant difference in talent between Aaron Ekblad and the forwards available and so I ranked Ekblad first overall.

This year, there was little doubt on the first two picks.  They are quite simply on a level far above the next grouping of players.  However, the next few spots on my draft board, ranks 3-7 are very close in terms of talent and impact level.  It is the philosophy that when the talent is equal that I go with the forward, that helped make the final decision to put Dylan Strome at number three on my draft board.

Strome has excellent bloodlines.  His older brother Ryan is a centre with the New York Islanders, and was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.   His younger brother Matthew led his Toronto Marlboros team to the OHL Cup, the top trophy for midget aged teams in Ontario, and is expected to be selected very high in the OHL Draft.  For his part Dylan led the OHL in scoring this season, as a six point game on the final night of the regular season finally clinched him the title with 129 points in 68 games this season.  He has been part of a dynamic 1-2 punch at centre for the Erie Otters and has them amongst the contenders to win the OHL title as the playoffs begin.

Dylan Strome

Center — shoots Left
Born Mar 7 1997 — Mississauga, ONT
Height 6.03 — Weight 187 [191 cm/85 kg]

A versatile forward, Dylan Strome spent some time at all three forward spots over the last two seasons. He gives the Otters the versatility to load up a top line with McDavid when they really need a goal or on the powerplay, but is mostly used at centre where he creates a 1-2 punch down the middle and provides the Otters with a second strong scoring line. Strome has an outstanding wrist shot, and a great release. He also has very good hands in tight and can be a real sniper. Strome also has the ability to be a playmaker with great vision and passing skills. He has good size and uses it to protect the puck in the cycle game. He is great at working down low, extending plays and waiting for the opening to take the puck to the front of the net, or for a linemate to get open and make the tape to tape pass. He has high-end hockey IQ, and seems to make the right play with the puck on his stick, or can find openings in the defense to set himself up for a one-timer.

Dylan Strome’s skating has been a source of criticism in other areas, but it is something that I think is a bit overblown. He shows a relatively smooth skating stride once he gets going, but his first few steps are choppy. This should be something that can be improved with a good skating coach. His top end speed is decent, but his acceleration and first few steps could use some improvement. In terms of agility and edgework, Strome has the ability to beat defenders one-on-one in the cycle game or off the rush, and he also has the power and balance to fight through checks, and he is hard to knock off the puck.

Dylan Strome is outstanding on faceoffs, and is one of the best in the OHL. His defensive game is decent but would be improved if he can work on his first few skating steps. He’s a committed backchecker who supports the defence down low and is willing to do whatever it takes to win games.

Dylan Strome has the size and skill to be a potential top line centre in the NHL. In terms of a comparison, I would compare his game to a mix of Joe Thornton and Ryan Johanssen. However, this is a style comparison only, not a talent one.

Here are some videos of Strome in action.

Check back tomorrow for my number 4 prospect.