As the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Dylan Strome was expected to become the face of the franchise for the Arizona Coyotes. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel were the two players selected before Strome, and Mitch Marner was taken with the fourth overall pick. While McDavid, Eichel, and Marner have become superstars in the league, the same cannot be said about the 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario.

The first four selections in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Strome Surging In Chicago

With just 16 points in 48 games over three seasons, the Coyotes decided to move on from Strome and traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks for Nick Schmaltz. Both players were struggling to fit in with their respected teams and could have used a change of scenery.

Since arriving in Chicago, and after earning three assists in last night’s 4-3 overtime win against Vancouver, Dylan Strome has scored 10 goals to go along with 17 assists in 31 games. Strome had the primary helper on two goals by Alex DeBrincat as well as the lone assist on Jonathan Toews’ game-winner. Strome has generated 13 points in the past eight games and he currently has a three-game point spree.

Strome has also recorded nine multi-point games in his short time as a Blackhawk, but more importantly, he’s looked remarkably comfortable in the second line center role, which was becoming a noticeable hole with Nick Schmaltz.

With Or Without Kane

Patrick Kane needed a center that was willing to shoot the puck and go to the net with a purpose. At 6’3″, 200 lb, Strome gives the second line some size to go along with his scoring touch. Kane has had success in the past with Artem Anisimov, another large center with a desire to get to the net. Anisimov hasn’t looked the same the past two seasons and is no longer in contention to be the Blackhawks future second line center. The Blackhawks are hopeful Dylan Strome will be succeeding in that role for a long time.

While playing alongside Kane has without a doubt been a benefit for Strome, he hasn’t necessarily relied on Kane for production. In practice on January 19th, the Blackhawks decided to give Kane another look on the top line with Jonathan Toews. Strome remained on the second line with Dominik Kahun and former Erie Otters teammate Alex DeBrincat. In the six games since Kane was moved to the top line, Strome has three goals and eight assists. It has actually been his most productive six-game stretch since joining the Blackhawks. Clearly, Dylan Strome doesn’t need to play with Patrick Kane to produce offensively.

Despite Kane and Toews’ recent success playing together on the top line, the plan for the future more than likely has them playing on separate lines. Especially if the Blackhawks do go out in free agency and sign a top forward like Artemi Panarin or Mark Stone.

While Strome has shown he doesn’t need to play with Kane to produce, there is no doubt he was traded to Chicago for the sole purpose of playing alongside Kane. So far he’s been impressive in that role and has shown off the skill set that led to him being drafted third overall. Strome possesses a strong wrist shot and has a knack for going to the dirty areas to score goals. His large frame is perfect for board battles, and his passing is an underrated part of his game.

For having less than 80 games of NHL experience, Strome is remarkably composed on the ice. He looks nothing like a player that is basically in their rookie season. Luckily for the Blackhawks, Strome has a team-friendly contract through the end of next season.

Dylan Strome’s current contract.

Strome is currently on his entry-level contract where he has a cap hit of $863,333. For the current production, Strome is providing the Blackhawks, he is an absolute steal at that price. Stan Bowman will have to pay him eventually, but that is something for later on down the road. The Blackhawks are fortunate to have Strome at such a cheap price for the next year and a half.

Recapping the Trade

In the 31 games Strome has played for the Blackhawks, he has looked like a significant improvement over Nick Schmaltz. He’s strong on the puck, physical along the boards, and most importantly, he goes to the net with a purpose. Kane needs to play with a center that wants to score goals. It was becoming more and more evident that Schmaltz was always going to be a pass-first player. Stan Bowman realized this and wisely decided to trade Schmaltz away for a hefty return.

The more games that Strome plays as a Blackhawk, the better this trade continues to look. The 21-year-old is beginning to look comfortable with his new team, and the confidence in his game is growing large. The future is bright for the former third overall pick.

Hopefully, Dylan Strome will continue to grow and have a lot of success as the second line center for the Chicago Blackhawks.