Selecting prospects to draft in the National Hockey League can be viewed as a bit of a crapshoot. Yes, a team has a better idea of what they are getting in round one and possibly even round two. However, it is quite a shot in the dark when it comes to the middle rounds and selecting individuals who will transform into players at the NHL level.
When dissecting how the Philadelphia Flyers did in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, one doesn’t have to travel any further than the first round to declare success for the orange and black. Nolan Patrick is already establishing himself at the pro level, having fans excited for what lies ahead. Morgan Frost, Philadelphia’s other first-round selection, has been having a historic season in the Ontario Hockey League, providing all sorts of anticipation and enthusiasm for when he finally reaches the Flyers. Still, Philadelphia drafted seven other players in 2017, and there is one fourth-round selection that brings all sorts of intrigue to the table.
At this point in his young hockey career, Matthew Strome is a bit of a project. The brother of both Dylan and Ryan has tons of talent but is cursed with one weakness that has curbed the expectations of many people. Curtis Joe of Eliteprospects.com summarizes Strome’s game best:
“A big, skilled winger that plays a complete and consistent game. Battles hard for puck possession and is relentless on both the power play and penalty kill. Plays a hard-nosed game and uses his size to establish his presence around the net. Has good hands, an accurate shot, and zero compromise hockey sense. His skating and overall balance off the rush and in-transition is a work in progress that is continuing to get better by the day. That being said, his vision is excellent and his offensive talent is apparent; he is able to play at a fast pace. Being able to keep up is a big part of that, and, moving forward, he has the potential to develop into a strong two-way winger that is hard to play against and can be relied on in all situations.”
As one can see from Joe’s scouting report, there is plenty to like about Strome. He’s big-bodied, hard-working, has tons of offensive skill and ability, and is blessed with a strong hockey sense. Unfortunately, his skating ability holds him back and of course, can be viewed as a huge issue. Obviously, it’s a little challenging to succeed at the NHL level if you can’t skate.
Luckily, skating is an aspect of the game that can be taught and improved upon. Knowing that the area Strome needs to see the most growth is skating provides coaches with something to focus their attention. He already has the offensive ability and hockey sense. If Strome can get his skating where it needs to be, he can be a valuable asset to the Flyers organization.
Strome is in his third season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL. As is expected, his production is progressing well, and his numbers increase each year. So far this season, Strome has recorded 64 points in 58 games, two more than last season’s total. Also, he has is ranked tenth in the entire OHL in goals with 34.
The 19-year-old Mississauga native is still a few years away from being NHL ready. With a prospect pool as fruitful as the one the Flyers have, this is more than fine. Strome’s skills will continue to develop, as well as his skating ability. It isn’t clear how capable of a player he will be at the pro level due to the uncertainties surrounding that one aspect of his game. However, he is an exciting prospect to keep an eye on as he can most certainly develop into a reliable member of Philadelphia’s roster in the future.