The Arizona Coyotes are down to just 31 players on their active roster, one of which is 18-year-old Dylan Strome — and according to head coach Dave Tippett, Strome has earned the right to stick around.
“He’s here on merit,” Tippett said over the weekend, per the team website. “[He’s] very poised. Some players look very poised in practice, and then in a game they have a hard time translating. He’s almost the other way.
“In a game you see a lot more of his sense than in practice. He’s played well and we’ll continue to look at him.”
The Coyotes say Strome hasn’t taken them by surprise, and they’re probably being honest. At the draft, GM Don Maloney fielded a number of trade calls from teams looking to secure this year’s No. 3 overall pick but he refused, saying no offer could match what he saw as a potential franchise center in Strome, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder with dynamic offensive ability.
“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 at the time. “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.”
It’s worth pointing out that Strome’s coming to the organization at the right time, too. Arizona isn’t expected to be very good this year and seems ready to embrace youth in a major way, as Max Domi and Anthony Duclair are penciled in for the opening-night roster.
Strome — who’s already lasted longer in camp than ’14 first-rounder Brendan Perlini — might end up there as well.
“We said we’re just going to keep going with the players that are playing well for as long as we can,” Tippett explained. “We’re very open to whoever can make us better.”