If Connor McDavid’s Erie Otters were supposed to sit back and play out the 2014-15 season in the future first overall pick’s shadow, somebody forgot to forward the memo to Dylan Strome.
All Strome did in his draft year was help guide the Otters to the 2015 Rogers OHL Championship Series (the Otters fell to the Oshawa Generals in five games), lead the OHL in scoring, and finish tied for the CHL scoring lead with 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.
McDavid he is not, but Strome’s outstanding campaign has him in the discussion to follow his Otters teammate and Boston University star Jack Eichel as the potential third overall selection at the NHL Entry Draft on June 26.
Here’s what you need to know about Dylan Strome.
Age on June 26: 18
Birthplace: Mississauga, Ont.
Current team: Erie Otters, OHL
Weight: 185 pounds
NHL Central Scouting rank (North American): 4th
Marek’s Take: Strome is a really smart and skilled hockey player. He was the OHL scoring champion for a reason. He won’t wow you with anything special, but if you’re looking for someone to play on your team for 15 solid years, he’s your guy. Not the fastest skater and there have been concerns about his leg strength but expect that to improve. Good, smart, solid hockey player. Comparable: Ron Francis.
More than just McDavid’s teammate
If you think Strome’s outstanding 2014-15 season was simply a byproduct of playing on McDavid’s team then clearly you haven’t been paying attention.
In the absence of McDavid, who missed time with an injury and while playing for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship, Strome put the Otters on his back.
Strome’s push for the OHL scoring title culminated with a six-point effort vs. the Niagara IceDogs on the last day of the season.
Where does he land?
This much we know: McDavid and Eichel will go 1-2. Beyond that, it’s much more of a guessing game.
Any of Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin, London Knights centre Mitch Marner, and Strome could end up going to the Arizona Coyotes with the third overall selection. Kingston Frontenacs winger Lawson Crouse, who projects as a power forward, is also in the mix for the 3-6 slots in the draft. Even Brandon defenceman Ivan Provorov has made a late push up the draft rankings.
Strome and Marner both cut their teeth in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. For his part, Strome appears ready to embrace the pressure of playing for the Maple Leafs if he ends up going fourth overall.
“Everyone I think I’ve ever met from Toronto is a Leafs fan, so growing up watching them it’s obviously pretty special to be in the conversation of potentially getting selected there,” Strome said. “It’s the NHL, it’s not like you’re holding out for one team. It’s not like that, but at the same time Toronto would be pretty special.”
Acquiring a 6-foot-3 skilled presence down the middle has to be an enticing scenario for the Maple Leafs.
Can he skate with the big boys?
Strome has an impressive hockey pedigree. His brother Ryan is a burgeoning star with the New York Islanders and younger sibling Matthew will debut in the OHL next season.
Dylan has shown he has the size and skill to dominate his peers, but does he possess the skating ability to put it all together in the NHL?
“Skating is never going to be a plus with him,” said one NHL scout who took in a playoff game vs. the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. “I think it shows up a little more against Soo than maybe with some other teams. The Soo is one of the fastest teams if not the fastest I’ve seen in the OHL in the last 10 seasons. They make average skaters or even a little above average skaters look slow.”