Dylan Strome, the third-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, doesn't believe he's been given a proper chance to shed the bust label that's placed on him.
Strome, who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks last month along with Brendan Perlini for forward Nick Schmaltz, says it isn’t fair to put that label on a player who has appeared in a total of just 60 NHL games over the past three seasons.
“I’ve never even played a full year yet,” Strome told The Athletic while laughing off the question of being a bust. “I feel like it’s tough to judge someone on a career without them having played a full year yet."
Strome, who was picked by the Arizona Coyotes after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel in 2015, doesn’t believe the expectations placed upon him were unfair, but argues he hasn't been given the opportunity to reach them.
“That’s the media, that’s sports, that’s what comes with being a high pick,” Strome said. “You’ve got to produce and that’s all it is. But you’ve got to play, too.”
Strome had 22 goals and 53 points in 50 AHL games last season and had four goals and nine points in 21 games with the Coyotes. He scored three goals and posted six points in 20 games with Arizona this season before being traded, though he was averaging just 13:32 of ice time per game.
Since the joining the Blackhawks, Strome has scored five goals and owns six points through 12 games while averaging 16:06 of ice time. He admits there's room to improve with a minus-6 rating – he was minus-10 in Arizona – but is thankful to have been given a chance to succeed.
“It’s different going from playing 12-13 minutes a night to 19 the last couple of games,” Strome said. “It’s definitely nice to have the coach’s trust and confidence. I’m still working on my defensive play, and I want to get my plus-minus up a little bit and obviously I want to get the team some wins. But I’ve been pretty happy individually. You can never be satisfied, though. I still can do a lot more. I still can bear down on some chances, and my faceoff numbers (45.7 percent since the trade) can be better.
"There are always things to work on, and you can’t be satisfied with where you’re at.”
After trading Strome and Perlini, both former first-round picks, Coyotes general manager John Chayka said he believed the team gave both players a fair chance to succeed.
“For us, there’s a key difference between patience and hope,” Chayka said. “I don’t think hope is a good long-term strategy. I thought we showed the requisite patience for these guys in terms of their development. You go through the checklist as an organization to make sure you provide the player with all the tools and support and helping them through their development path, but at the same time they have to show progress along that development path and eventually become the players you would have hoped they were when you drafted them.
“In this scenario, with these circumstances and this situation, we felt that we were being more hopeful than anything. We just felt that, when you’re looking at your options and alternatives, I think I owe it to our organization and our fans to see if there’s anything out there to improve our group. Obviously, the alternative is to just hold and to hope, but you run the risk of the asset expiring.”
Strome, however, appears to see things differently, though his focus is now on making the best of his chance with the Blackhawks.
“To say someone has had a bad career or whatever when they haven’t played even a full season, I don’t know,” Strome said. “You’ve just got to keep learning and keep getting better every day. Sometimes a new opportunity arises and you’ve just got to run with it. That’s what I’m trying to do.”