Dylan Strome appears to be the guy that most Leafs fans want to draft this summer. As I wrote this article, the little poll that sits to the right of of this site told me that 58% of TLN readers preferred Strome to Mitch Marner or Noah Nanifin, which is not an insignificant amount of you.
What makes Strome really interesting is that, much like Hanifin, there’s no telling if he’ll even be available by the time Toronto’s fourth overall pick comes up. It’s widely believed that Arizona, the owner of the third overall pick, will likely take one of the two, with the Leafs most likely choosing between whoever’s left over and Marner.
If Arizona does take Hanifin (or Marner, I guess), here’s three very good reasons why the Leafs should be interested in nabbing Strome.
More past the jump…
Big Centres Are Incredibly Uncommon
They’re like freakin’ unicorns, man. Since the NHL Entry Draft was created in 1963, only 26 centres standing 6’3 or taller have been drafted in the top ten picks. Admittedly, NHL.com is missing some height/weight data from the earliest of drafts, but that still makes Dylan Strome a pretty rare specimen.
Now, that’s not to say that every one of these big pivots has worked out for the teams that drafted them. Guys like Mario Lemieux, Mike Modano, Mats Sundin, Eric Lindros, Joe Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier certainly did. Others like Alexander Svitov, Mikhail Yakubov and Jason Bonsignore… not so much. There’s been a couple more big centres that have been drafted recently, like Florida’s Aleksander Barkov and Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier – I wouldn’t say either of them have been a disappointment so far.
Point is, successful teams normally have a stud, top-line centre. Some of them also happen to be big dudes, and that certainly doesn’t hurt. In almost all cases, they were drafted and developed by one team; rarely are these types of players traded.
If the Leafs want to land a number one centre, they’re probably going to have to draft their own. Strome is certainly their best opportunity to do so in the short term.
Strome Lead His Draft Class in Scoring
I’m not talking OHL. I’m not talking CHL. I’m talking literally everyone. Strome’s 129 points in 68 games this season for Erie as A) insane and B) the highest point total out of everyone in the 2015 draft class.
(And no, I’m not including Connor Garland – the 19-year old in Moncton who also put up 129 points this season. You don’t get to count if you’ve been passed over multiple times in the draft.)
The next closest was Mitch Marner with 123 points, followed by Connor McDavid with 120 points (albeit in 21 less games). I’m well aware that Strome may very well not have held the title of top scorer in his class if others had played a full season in good health, but that doesn’t make the feat any less impressive.
A lot of folks talk about how Marner is the more offensively gifted one, but let’s not sneeze at Strome’s work in the opposition’s zone. There’s certainly a perception out there in the prospect world that ‘big’ players get by on alone and it’s the smaller players who are truly the most gifted and skilled, when in reality it’s simply most important to look at an individual’s strengths and weaknesses without defining them in generalities. Let’s also remember that when it comes to size, Strome is big by NHL standards, not just OHL standards.
Future Considerations certainly doesn’t seem to think Strome’s offensive game is lacking…
Elite offensive forward…a big forward who moves well, and demonstrated some very good power and speed…is tough to contain as he used his speed, strength and creativity to beat defenders…has great vision with the puck and sees the ice very well…uses his crafty hands to dance around defenders and get into positions where he could shoot or set-up teammates…distributes the puck well and is able to create a lot of chances…has a lethal wrist-shot with great power and a pretty good release…uses his size and reach on the boards to win the puck and get in good supporting areas to pick up loose pucks…defensive effort goes up and down.
The Strome Family is a Leafs Family
Dylan, born just outside of Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario, grew up a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s a hometown kid and fan of his hometown team – that’s cute.
But Dylan isn’t an only child. In fact, his older brother Ryan is also a Leafs fan, and he’s also a very talented hockey player who was drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2011. Ryan just finished his first full season in the NHL and put up a respectable 50 points.
If Ryan needed any more incentive to jump ship the first chance he got and play for his favourite team growing up, having his younger brother Dylan to play alongside wouldn’t hurt.