The Blackhawks will be selecting third overall in the 2019 NHL Draft next month. The last time the Hawks did that, they selected Jonathan Toews. But that’s not the only No. 3 overall pick on Chicago’s roster. Thanks to a November trade, the Blackhawks acquired Dylan Strome from the Coyotes, who then started showing off some of the skills that made him worthy of the No. 3 selection in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Basic stats tell much of the story of Strome’s evolution in Chicago.
- In 48 career games with the Coyotes in three seasons, he only had seven goals and nine assists.
- In 58 games with the Blackhawks this past season, he had 17 goals and 34 assists.
Strome’s time on ice also increased significantly in Chicago, jumping from an average of 13:18 with the Coyotes to 17:04 with the Blackhawks. That coincided with a massive increase in power play time on ice. Strome average 1:31 of power play ice time in the 2017-18 season. But this past season, that number rocketed up to 3:11 per game while skating on the top power-play unit with Chicago.
The power play numbers certainly helped Strome’s overall production. He had three power play goals and nine assists with the Blackhawks. But his even-strength numbers saw the largest improvement. After scoring just three even-strength goals in 48 Coyotes games, he had 14 with Chicago. He also tallied 25 even-strength assists with the Hawks, a massive increase over his eight with the Coyotes. The only statistic that didn’t improve in Chicago was faceoff percentage. In his brief 20-game stint with Arizona last season, Strome won 58 percent of his faceoffs — that plummeted to 44.9 percent with Chicago.
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Strome has the size to be a top-tier NHL center, though his skating speed can lag behind that of today’s fast-paced NHL. But Strome’s excellent vision and playmaking ability make up for it — especially on the power play, where he helped spark the second-half turnaround in Chicago’s performance with the man advantage.
He’s still making plays like that while playing for Canada at the World Championship, like this blind pass to Mark Stone for a power play goal against Germany:
And let’s not forget this dazzling goal against the Jets in December:
Strome was part of Chicago’s most explosive scoring lines this season. According to Corsica, Strome skated on two of the top three Chicago lines in terms of goals scored per 60 minutes: Alex DeBrincat-Strome-Patrick Kane scored at a team-best rate of 5.79 goals per 60 minutes, while DeBrincat-Strome-Dominik Kahun checked in at No. 3 with 5.1.
Strome played the best hockey of his young NHL career with the Blackhawks — and he’s still only 22 years old. The challenge for Strome will be consistent production while the NHL begins to take notice of his improved performance on the ice. But so far, acquiring Strome back in November is flying up the list of best moves made by Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.
s/t to Shalyn Brady for compiling the statistics for this article