The Arizona Coyotes figure to be one of the youngest teams in the league this season and could have more than six players on their roster under the age of 23.
One of those players could be 2015 No. 3 overall pick Dylan Strome, one of the centerpiece prospects of their current rebuild. But just as they have done the past two seasons the Coyotes figure to be extremely patient with their most prized prospect.
Strome received a brief seven-game look in Arizona at the start of the 2016-17 season where he recorded a single assist before going back to the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League where he absolutely annihilated the league for a third consecutive season, recording 75 points in just 35 games. In that sense, he has absolutely nothing left to prove at the junior level because he is clearly a step or two (and maybe more) above the rest of the league.
But the Coyotes still want to make sure he is able to play the sort of game they are looking for at the NHL level before he gets a permanent look in that role. They had no interest in trying to let him play a depth role this past season.
Here is general manager John Chayka talking about Strome’s development and what they are looking for, via Jerry Brown of NHL.com.
“We could have had Dylan here and had him play a depth role or play on the wing,” Chayka said. “He would have been fine doing that, but that’s not what we’re looking for out of him. We’re looking for him to be a 200-foot center who impacts the game in all areas. That’s a very difficult position to play and excel in at a young age. We’re trying to bring him along the right way and do the right thing for the right reason. We are looking for the same thing this year. It could happen for him as early as Game 1 of the preseason, where he grabs a spot and runs with it and away he goes. It’s my expectation that he will have a strong camp.”
First-year Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet has already talked about wanting a creative, skilled team, especially when it comes to the organizations young players, and Strome could potentially be a great — and perhaps even exciting — addition to that roster if he earns a spot.
Along with Strome the Coyotes also have young players Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, Max Domi, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvoak and Anthony Duclair all at forward and all under the age of 23, while Nick Cousins, Jordan Martinook and Tobias Rieder are all 25 or younger. Injured defenseman Jakob Chychrun is also only 19.