Draft Week: Ryan Strome

With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft coming up this Friday, SenShot will take a look at the five forward prospects that will be on Ottawa’s radar come draft night. Today, we examine Ryan Strome.

The perfect fit behind Spezza?

Coming to the Niagara IceDogs in a blockbuster trade last season, then-rookie Ryan Strome put up a respectable eight goals and 27 points. His second year in the OHL was completely different as the IceDogs’ center scored more goals than he had points in his previous year. Strome had a CHL-best 79-point improvement in his second season, finishing third in the OHL with 33 goals and 106 points.

With 73 assists, Strome was only second to consensus number one pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins‘ 75 assists in the CHL this year. The 6’0″, 183 lbs two-way center has great speed and a tool belt full of moves that he has at his disposal. A slick playmaker, Strome can also put the puck in the net and can only get better. His huge year can be attritbuted to his off-season training where he focused on getting stronger and faster. 

Flying up the draft rankings, Strome’s potential seems to have only scratched the surface as with another big off-season, Strome could dominate the OHL even more so then he already does. His 1.63 points-per-game average ranked first among all the top producing OHL forwards this season and his YouTube video of a highlight reel goal against Plymouth in October 2010 has over 300,000 views. Here’s what the experts say:

As per TSN‘s Bob McKenzie,

Strengths - Quick, elusive skater with top-notch agility and playmaking skills. Crafty, adept at finding time and space, soft hands, quick release, skilled in tight quarters. Worked hard in offseason to improve fitness, clutch scorer. Solid anticipation and smarts at both ends of the rink.

Weaknesses - Not a physically intimidating player who will punish opponents, still needs to add some strength. Can be a little lackadaisical at times. Work ethic could improve.

NHL Upside - Top-line offensive center with point-per game potential.

As per The Hockey News Draft Preview,

Though he started off the year projected as a second-rounder, the creative and entertaining playmaker solidified himself as a top-10 talent in a breakout campaign that saw him finish third in league scoring.

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards

“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.”

Niagara GM and head coach Marty Williamson

“Ryan is one of those guys that initiates contact and makes a great play. He plays in those traffic areas and he wins battles and then he makes great passes. He’s got great vision . . . He’s confident, he feels good on the ice, and when you have skill and a lot of confidence, good things happen.”

McKenzie has Strome ranked seventh overall, while The Hockey News has him at sixth overall, and the International Scouting Services has him at ninth overall.

Strome was nowhere on the map at the beginning of the season. But after his great season, he has climbed into the top ten and potentially into the top five. With a huge upside, Strome is seen as the second tier of prospects after the consensus top four. Here’s a video on Strome courtesy of the NHL.com.

And here is Strome’s highlight reel goal against Plymouth in October 2010 which was the goal of the year in junior hockey.

If Strome was selected by the Sens, what should Sens Army expect?

With Jason Spezza entrenched as the number one center in Ottawa for the foreseeable future, Strome would be similar to Sean Couturier and would be groomed as the perfect second line center to compliment him. As a slick playmaker, he would help take some of the offensive load off Spezza, and would be able to provide a consistent offensive threat from the second line. With Ottawa lacking any impact centerman in the system, Strome would be counted on to play a huge top six role, and maybe even a top three role if he was converted into a winger for Spezza’s line. With an average size (6’0″, 183 lbs), Strome would need to add strength to his frame to make Ottawa strong down the middle in the future.

If drafted by Ottawa, the Sens should resist the temptation to keep Strome in an NHL jersey next season as he has many areas that he needs to shore up (like any young prospect). As was seen with his huge jump in his point totals, another big off-season from Strome could turn him into a real blue chip prospect. If the plan was to send him back to junior for one more year, Strome could have two big off-seasons to train and improve his strength.

Compared to NHL’er Matt Duchene, Strome has the potential to be this year’s Jeff Skinner and be an impact player in the league. His potential is as high as anybody’s in the draft, but he is ultimately one-two years away from competing in the NHL. Out of all the highly ranked prospects, Strome is part of the second tier of prospect and could be the player most likely available when Ottawa steps up to the mic at the sixth position. Some will see it as a consolation prize if Ottawa selects Strome at 6th overall after missing out on the higher rated prospects, but Strome could turn out to be the steal of the draft. Could he be the next Ottawa Senator?

Check out the other prospects we have examined so far: Sean Couturier

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft goes Friday and Saturady in Minnesota. Stay tuned to SenShot as we will provide complete coverage of the draft and of all the prospects selected.

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Tags: 2011 NHL Entry Draft CHL Jason Spezza Jeff Skinner Matt Duchene NHL Niagara IceDogs OHL Ottawa Senators Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Ryan Strome Sean Couturier

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