Ryan Strome, C Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Born: July 11, 1993 in Mississauga, Ontario
Strengths: High-end offensive talent; quick stick and sublime hands for making gorgeous passes or scoring memorable goals. Can stickhandle into traffic with ease and emerges with the puck intact usually getting a shot on net or finding a teammate in the open. Doesn't get as much attention as Tomas Jurco does with the trick plays when the puck is on his stick, but in Jurco's class in terms of his ability to control and manipulate the biscuit on his twig. Highly creative center who makes everyone around him better with his elite hockey IQ and the vision/anticipation to make plays all over the ice. Hard shot with an NHL-caliber release- able to score from the outside or can take it in close and beat goaltenders with the dangle or deke. Accurate shooter who can pick the corners and is deadly between the faceoff circles when he has time and space. Excellent skater who can beat defenders with his speed or elusiveness. Backs defenders up with his speed and lateral movement as he's able to make dazzling moves with the puck at full gallop. Team leader- when motivated takes his game to another level. Missed three games due to a concussion after taking a Joey Hishon punch to the head late in the year, likely costing him the OHL scoring crown- finished just two points shy of co-winners Tyler Toffoli and Jason Akeson. Smart defensively with the instincts to play effectively in all three zones. Sharp kid who is a steady presence on social media sites like Twitter and already understands the power of promoting a positive image and engaging with his fanbase- one of these guys who gets it and shows a maturity beyond his years.
Weaknesses: Lanky frame- needs to bulk up and get stronger (like many 18-year-olds). Can go stretches where he is uninvolved when playing defensive hockey- if he can ratchet up the consistency in his own end, he's an NHL star-in-waiting.
The goal against Plymouth that heralded Strome's arrival as a top draft prospect this year (h/t kovalev274life)
Strome hat trick (NHL Draft Video)
Outstanding TVCogecoOntario feature on Strome by Julie Stewart-Binks
OpenIceHockey feature on Ryan Strome
Interview with Ryan Strome at the NHL Scouting Combine (B2011DW video)
Style compares to: Tyler Seguin
Draft prediction: Strome's stock shot up from being seen coming into the season as a second-round pick to a potential top-five going into the OHL playoffs after a torrid finish to the regular season. His stock is down a bit again after being shut down by Mississauga in the conference final series, but it isn't like he played poorly- his club lost to a superior one. Strome is a victim of other players in the draft class enjoying a late-season bounce more than anything else. Strome could go as a high as six to Ottawa, but the thinking here is that he'll drop to eight or nine because of some of the bigger names that could be there at 6 or 7. Strome will not get past Minnesota at the 10th spot, however- there is simply too much dynamic skill and creativity there for that.
Projection: First line center if he reaches his impressive ceiling. Two-way third-liner at the least because he does have a good work ethic and has a real passion for the game. He's going to improve his defense and make himself into the player his NHL club wants him to be.
Background:Born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario the large suburb south of downtown Toronto. A graduate of the Toronto Marlies AAA minor midget program where teammates included Lucas Lessio and Stuart Percy. Originally drafted by the Barrie Colts, but traded to Niagara in his rookie OHL campaign a year ago as part of the deal for Alex Pietrangelo. Exploded for 33 goals, 106 points in his second OHL campaign after putting up just 8 goals and 27 points as a rookie. Led Niagara in assists (73) and points this season. His 1.63 points-per-game as a 17-year-old was tops among forwards in the OHL this season. Younger brothers Dylan and Matthew are also high-level hockey prospects who are coming down the pipe in Ontario. Favorite NHL team: Toronto Maple Leafs
If Strome had his own soundtrack it would be: "Feedback In the Field"- Plants and Animals (Just because this song and video are boss- kudos to YanthaCanada)
"You saw him last year and you liked him, but I didn't think he was going to take it to this level this quickly. He's a guy who's got just great puck skills; he dangles with the puck and has got great speed. Really, he doesn't need any time or space to get his shot away. He has a knack for getting to open ice. So, he's the guy who's probably come up the list further than anybody this year to crack our top-10."- Red Line Report chief scout Kyle Woodlief to B2011DW; December, 2010
"He skates very well and has very good speed. He's a creative playmaker who sees the ice very well. He goes to the net and battles in front. He is able to get to rebounds and loose pucks in front. He has good hands and has scored some goals off tip-ins in front."- Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to NHL.com
"Strome is an outstanding playmaker with top-end skating ability. He has come as far as any kid in this draft and has a ton of upside."- NHL scout to B2011DW; June 12, 2011
Ryan Dittrick feature on Strome from Edmonton Oilers official site