When the Erie Otters announced Dylan Strome’s name as the second overall pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection, it marked a new arrival in hockey’s family of brothers.
A 6-foot-2, 165 pound forward, Strome played his minor midget season with the Toronto Marlboros. As captain, Strome led the Marlboros to the Greater Toronto Hockey League championship, and was named the league’s best player.
And of course, any post on Strome cannot go with mentioning his brother, New York Islanders first-rounder Ryan Strome. The eldest member of the Strome hockey family, Ryan just finished his OHL career as a member of the Niagara IceDogs. Ryan was originally chosen by the Barrie Colts in the first round of the 2009 Priority Selection, but made his name as a skilled member of the ‘Dogs.
“People already know [Ryan] and everything he can do, so I’m just trying to create my own path and hopefully make people notice me, too,” the Otters draft choice said at March’s OHL Cup.
As Dylan mentioned, the attention now falls on the middle Strome brother, one of the best now-former AAA players expected to play in the Ontario Hockey League next season.
“Dylan is a heck of a player, but we needed to pretty well miss the playoffs to be able to get a shot at him,” said Marty Williamson, Niagara’s head coach and general manager. “I see a lot of similarities to Ryan.”
Scouts have recognized Strome’s vision as some of the best in his age group.
“He’s got the whole package,” OHL scout Tim Cherry said of Strome. “He’s explosive, one of the best skaters in the GTHL, and he has the magic hands, and an intensity you look for game in and game out. He can get the puck and go through the whole team. Can’t ask for much more than that.”
“[Strome] has instinctive vision so he has the ability to see plays develop ahead of other players and combined with his reaction time, his gifted stickhandling and his shooting, he’s often able to make plays out of nothing,” Marlboros coach Wayne Gagne told Hockey Now.
Dylan is quickly becoming known as the most dangerous playmaker in the age group. His puck skills and vision are his best assets. He is a gifted passer, displays an ability to carve defences with [no-look] passes ranging from five to twenty feet in little to no space. Exhibits great imagination with the puck in the offensive zone, driving the net or finding teammates in open ice. Soft, quick hands make him one of the more dangerous players around the net. Well sized for a player of his age and continuing to grow into his body. He still needs to work on adding bulk to his large [6’2”] frame. Not an elegant skater, as he is somewhat stiff and heavy footed. Increasing the length and fluidity will make him a stronger, more mobile player. Projects out as a number one centre at the next level.
Strome becomes part of an Otters roster already home to one of the world’s biggest hockey names in Connor McDavid.
McDavid was the first overall pick in last year’s OHL draft, and entered the league as its youngest player after receiving “exceptional status.” Roughly the same age as Strome, McDavid was recently named the OHL’s Rookie of the Year.
One of the main reason Strome’s playmaking talents were so highly sought by Erie: McDavid needs a winger to help steer the ship.
“Strome is just what the Otters need: a scorer and playmaker,” wrote GoErie.com’s Victor Fernandes. “He had 65 goals, 78 assists and 143 points in 60 games this season. He played for a tradition-rich Toronto Marlboros program that has produced players like McDavid and Otters captain Connor Brown. So Strome knows how to win.”
Leadership is a quality Strome displays on and off the ice. And it’s exactly what Strome will need to succeed on a team that currently has limited depth.
“He’s the type of player that makes others around him successful,” said Marlboros coach Wayne Gagne, Strome’s coach for the past seven years.
The Otters have been at the bottom of the OHL standings for a couple seasons now, but Strome understands the role of a high draft pick.
“You’re not always going to be part of a winning team,” Strome said at the OHL Cup. “But it’s your job when you go there to make it a winning team.”
David O’Connor is a managing editor with the Sunbelt Hockey Journal. His writing has been on the Los Angeles Times’ website, among other places. O’Connor also does some scouting work for the local Junior B hockey club. Please feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.