Arizona locked in what promises to be a key part of the club’s future on Monday, agreeing to a three-year, entry-level deal with its first-round pick at this year’s draft — OHL Erie center Dylan Strome.
“We are very pleased to sign Dylan to an entry-level contract,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said in a release. “Dylan is a very talented player and all he’s done his entire career is lead his teams and leagues in scoring and win championships. He will be an important player for us in the future and a key building block for this franchise.”
The younger brother of Islanders’ forward — and former No. 5 overall pick — Ryan Strome, Dylan had a tremendous campaign as Connor McDavid’s running mate in Erie this year, capturing the OHL scoring title with 129 points in 68 games.
At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Strome has good size but will need to add bulk to compete at the NHL level, especially in a Western Conference that’s loaded at the center position. In fact, the need for an elite center is what pushed Maloney to select Strome No. 3 overall, even though other teams were pushing hard to trade up to that spot (also worth noting Boston College’s Noah Hanifin was still on the board, a guy some consider to be a franchise defenseman.)
Despite all that, Maloney insisted Strome was the guy.
“Looking at our organization and what we have, it wasn’t only that we really needed what we believe is a really good, skilled, playmaking center that makes others better and who’s won everywhere he’s went,” Maloney said. “So let’s say we pass on that and take a defenseman; how are we going to ever find somebody close to [Strome]?
“We didn’t see it in the draft.”