Dylan Strome has had the season of his life for the Erie Otters. Even he can’t believe how successful he and the team has been. He was honest with us earlier in the season when we asked him if he was surprised at way the season started.
“Yeah, I never thought we could start out the season that way (13-0-1),” Strome told us. “We knew we had the talent coming in. But it has really come together for us.”
Any concerns that this young Erie Otters team could struggle quickly went out the window. Connor McDavid was doing Connor McDavid things. Strome got off to an excellent start, quickly building off his 10 goal rookie season. Newcomer Alex DeBrincat made an immediate impact. The only question was, which seed would they get in the playoffs?The Otters will begin their Round 2 OHL playoff series tonight against the London Knights. This series has about as many storylines as there are McDonald’s throughout the world. We are going to focus on Dylan Strome here. Given the recent draft rankings that just came out, Strome is 4th, and Mitchell Marner of the Knights is 6th, this will be a topic that is debated all the way until draft day. Which player is better?
Although Strome won the OHL scoring title, beating out Marner, there seem to be many questions that remain. The most common knock is, he’s good because of Connor McDavid. There was even a scout that said Strome “isn’t any good” and seems “to only get a bunch of 2nd assists.”
So, we will ask the question, is Dylan Strome a great player, or is he a product of other factors, such as the McDavid effect? Is Strome just a trendy pick in this upcoming draft?
Strome Without McDavid
Given the fact that Strome played 21 games without McDavid this season, this is a good place to start. He played as the number 1 center in all 21 of those games. He scored 35 points, 18 goals and 17 assists, in those games. This includes his 6 point effort in the final game of the regular season to clinch the scoring title. Strome was also a +7 in those 21 games.
The Otters went 12-7-2 in those games. It wasn’t because of him that the record fell off some. Defense and goaltending was a major issue all season for this team. Strome was outstanding, and handled all of the pressure that came with being “the man.”
Strome With McDavid
In the other 47 games, Strome scored 94 points, 27 goals, 67 assists. Strome averaged 2.00 points/game with McDavid, and 1.67 points/game without him. That is not a huge drop off.
The only time they would generally play together was on their power play. McDavid was 1st line center, and Strome centered the 2nd line. Many would now say that Strome didn’t have to face the opposing team’s top D pairing. That may be true.
But there is another element here that makes Strome great out of this. Thanks to injuries, and a little bit of inconsistent play, his line mates were shuffled a lot. But, no matter who Coach Knobloch threw out there, Strome’s presence made them better. Strome is such a threat every time he touches the puck. His line mates are wide open at times, thanks to the respect given to Strome by opponents.
Here’s the other thing. Dylan Strome has helped Connor McDavid become a better player as well. It works both ways. McDavid told us earlier in the season just that.
“He’s an unbelievable player,” McDavid said of Strome. “Every time he’s on the ice, it feels like something is going to happen.”
Strome is an outstanding player. He, like most everyone else, has things to work on. His skating is coming along, but it has work to do. He is also working on his size. Compared to the beginning of the season, both are leaps and bounds better.
Whoever ends up drafting Strome will get a true number 1 franchise center. If not for McDavid and Jack Eichel, he could have went number 1 overall. For what it’s worth, he has more primary assists than secondary assists. Be careful what you read out there. Dylan Strome is a keeper, and fans will love him as soon as he arrives. He is a great player, not just a trendy pick.
Related: Dylan Strome’s Next Ones Profile