2011 NHL Draft Prospects: No. 8 Ryan Strome
May 14, 2011 2 Comments
Every year the NHL Draft has at least one player who shoots up the draft board for a team that thinks he’s much better than NHL Central Scouting believes. We might have another one of those in Niagra IceDogs center Ryan Strome. The Mississauga, Ontario native struggled a bit in his first season of Ontario League hockey, posting just 27 points in 61 games for both the Barrie Colts and the IceDogs. But this season, he broke out and showed his talents, posting 33 goals and 73 assists for 106 points in 65 games – good for third overall in the OHL.
“He’s legit; nice size, nice skills and is really playing well right now,” said teammate Dougie Hamilton on Strome’s chances in the NHL. “I’d say that right now, he looks like a solid early second-rounder, but if he keeps it up, then he’ll move up into the first, somewhere in the early twenties, I would think.”
“Last year, we loved his smarts, that why we drafted him in Barrie in the first round, in the top 10, but he just wasn’t strong enough for this league,” says Niagra coach Marty Williamson. “I think he is still a work-in-progress that way, but he’s put on that 10-15 pounds which has helped him get that quick jump out of the gate. He’s carrying the puck very well through the neutral zone and he’s very shifty and smooth.”
Strome’s statistics include a plus-28 rating and 82 penalty minutes. His defensive play has room for improvement, but for the most part, scouts are happy with his dedication to his two-way game and his desire to do whatever it takes to help his team win. It was this commitment to teamwork that helped lead the IceDogs to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, clinching the third playoff berth (due to not winning their division).
Before the season, scouts were projecting Strome to be taken in the late first round. However, when he is on his game, he looks like a top-10 player – among the best that may be taken this June. His hockey sense is arguably his best quality, while his skating ability is among the best in the OHL. At 6-foot, 183 pounds, he isn’t the biggest, but Strome can still break through bigger opponents and use his height to his advantage. Of course, he could use a few more pounds, but he still could be one of the few players to jump to the NHL next season. His hands rival the best young players in Major Junior, and his vision further helps his cause.
“This is a guy who already looks like a solid No. 2 for the NHL and it’s still early,” one scout said in an interview with Bruins 2011 Draft Watch. “He’s got a very nice upside and I think is only starting to show what he’s capable of.”
“You gotta be quick,” said Strome, “But obviously the most important parts are size and speed. A quick, smart player can survive against the big, strong guys.”
Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.