When Arizona took Dylan Strome third overall at the 2015 draft, the organization thought it found its No. 1 center of the future.
Then Strome went out and nearly became the No. 1 center of the present.
The OHL Erie star survived several rounds of cuts last fall, and stuck with the big club until five days before the start of the regular season, when the Coyotes decided to send him back to junior.
Now, Strome is once again gunning to make the show.
“One year more experience has definitely helped and hopefully helps them see that I’m ready to make the team,” he told AZ Central this week, while participating in Arizona’s prospect development camp. “I’m ready to try to stick there for the long run.”
Strome, 19, lit up the OHL upon being returned, scoring a whopping 111 points in just 56 games. He also tied Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner in scoring for Canada at the world juniors.
One of the big issues Strome faced last year was his lack of strength. He was listed at 187 pounds in his draft year — which might’ve been generous — and Coyotes GM John Chayka said Strome “hit the wall” by the end of camp.
Since then, Strome has added 10 pounds to his frame in preparation of facing the rigors of the NHL.
There will undoubtedly be pressure within the organization to see Strome play in the bigs. He, along with OHL London star Christian Dvorak, are two of the club’s best young forward prospects outside the NHL, and the allure of teaming them with Max Domi and Anthony Duclair is very much alive.
In the end, that decision will ultimately fall to head coach Dave Tippett. Tippett was highly complimentary of Strome last fall, noting that he survived as long as he did “on merit.”
This year, it sure sounds like Strome will have an even greater chance to make the Coyotes.
“He had a very good camp last year,” Tippett said. “I expect him to be that much further along this year. He’s a guy that will certainly get a long look with us.”