Dylan Strome: NHL caliber player or third overall draft bust?

When the Arizona Coyotes selected Dylan Strome third in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, they may have expected better results than they've seen thus far.

For two straight NHL seasons, Arizona Coyotes’ fans have expected something special from Dylan Strome.

It hasn’t quite happened yet. First, he needed to bulk up, coming into the 2016/17 camp at a paltry 180lbs. At 6’3″, he needed to get stronger to contend with NHL sized players.

He was said to be ‘a sure thing’ to play in NHL

When one surveys his OHL statistics, it is easy to justify that he was a future NHL player. It’s just a matter of how far into the future that will turn out being.

With the Erie Otters, his numbers were fantastic. During his 2014/15 season, he accumulated 45 goals, 84 assists for 129 points in just 68 games. He followed that up the next year with 37 goals, 74 assists for 111 points in 56 games.

Definitely NHL potential, but so far that’s all it’s been is potential. Under former head coach Dave Tippett the process was to allow the young players to develop.

That theory doesn’t hold water (or ice) when you look at the fourth overall pick in the same draft, center Mitch Marner. Marner went to the Toronto Maple Leafs and scored 19 goals, 42 assists in 77 games, or 0.79 points a game last season.

And, if you argue that Strome’s size is holding him back, Marner is 6’0″, 175lbs dripping wet. 

Wouldn’t the Coyotes love to have Marner’s numbers? The book on him was that he was too small to play in the NHL.


Strome has been a bust so far

He has only scored one point in nine NHL games. If you watched any of those games, you would see why he’s in the AHL instead of the NHL.

He seems invisible, and why is that? He’s supposed to be an elite center who can score, and pass, and be a leader. 

When you compare Strome to Christian Dvorak who was selected 28th in 2014, it makes you wonder if Strome will ever develop into the player the team’s management hoped he would be.

Dvorak has 15 goals, 21 assists in 96 NHL games, and kills penalties, and centers the team’s second line. He is a two-way player who covers the entire 200′ sheet of ice.

To some observing Strome, he is not hungry enough to be and stay in the NHL. Instead of going into the corners to fight for the puck, he allows his line mates to do the dirty work. 

Is he the type of player known as a “cherry picker” who wants all the glory of scoring without exerting the effort required to show hard work pays off?

Head coach Rick Tocchet sent him to the AHL

Perhaps it was that Strome was overconfident, or that he just didn’t show Tocchet that he was ready to play regularly in the NHL. In any case he may be down in the AHL for a bit. He will hopefully be able to sort out what his game needs to be back in the NHL.

So far he’s doing pretty well in Tucson with one goal (his first professional goal), five assists in four games. If he can continue on that pace, he may be able to return to the NHL, but not before. 

Tocchet doesn’t feel Strome was horrible but needs to get valuable playing time in the AHL. According to Sarah McLellan, of the arizonarepublic.com, he was sent down for more development and playing time.

What is yet to be determined is if that will get Strome motivated enough to get back to the NHL? He seems capable, so it’s really a mystery why he’s playing at the AHL level.

Some players develop at different time stages, but if he doesn’t mature soon how much longer should the team wait to decide his fate? 

The Coyotes have plenty of good young players in their system now. Just look at how Clayton Keller has developed into one of the top rookies playing this season.

Unfortunately, Strome hasn’t been able to display that skill level… yet.

If he doesn’t make progress down in Tucson, and lead that team in scoring so he gets the call back to the parent club, should they consider moving him? 

With the goldmine of prospects the Coyotes have they could use another strong defender. After all, they have only one point in nine games, and Strome isn’t helping them playing in the AHL. 

If he isn’t back in the NHL by the new year, it may be the best option to trade him seeing as how he has had his opportunities and has failed to show more than potential.

Potential doesn’t win games, and Strome needs to wake up before it’s too late… it may already be at that point.

Do you feel that Dylan Strome will ever be a good caliber NHL player? Let us know in the comments section below.

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William Grigsby

I have been a hockey fan since I can remember. I grew up in Chicago, so I followed the Blackhawks.  When I moved to Phoenix, AZ  I became a Coyotes' fan. There's no other sport like NHL hockey!