This summer, the Carolina Hurricanes took on board a former 3rd overall pick from 2018 who was struggling on his former team in hopes of reclaiming some of that great upside he had when he was drafted. If we go back to 2015 and look at the disgruntled 3rd overall pick who is struggling on his current team, we find Chicago Blackhawks center, Dylan Strome.
Strome was originally drafted by Arizona but after some struggles with the desert dogs, he was moved to Chicago hoping that the change of scenery would improve his production. It… didn’t exactly see him destroy worlds, but it was a move that has seen him improve a little bit being away from the pressure of carrying a top line.
While Strome has not seen an 82 game season since his mid-season move to the Blackhawks, he has tallied 41 goals and 72 assists for 113 points in 176 games. It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s not something to turn your nose up at. While the top-end talent around him may very well have ended up bailing him out, you have to have a certain skill level to play with those kinds of players.
For someone who was so highly touted, you can see why he’s been labeled as a reclamation project. He was taken 3rd in 2015, so the two players taken above him were only Jack Eichel and some dude no one has ever heard of named Connor McDavid. He went above so many players who have become fantastic NHL talents.
Strome’s upside has never been questioned. What’s always been in question is getting there and at 24 years old, he’s not exactly got long left to put it all together. If he can put it all together though, there’s a player here with unquestionable skill. It’s the refinement. He’s very much a diamond in the rough and needs to be helped a lot before he loses touch with that talent.
Strome makes $3 million against the cap this year and is a restricted free agent at the end of it. Carolina would be able to fit that under the cap, just about, due to Jake Gardiner being on the Long Term Injured reserve and giving the Canes a little bit of cap flexibility. Not a lot, but there’s just about enough to get Strome under the cap. Retention would obviously make it easier too.
Strome would provide long-term insurance if the Canes opt not to bring back some of their pending UFA’s in the summer, and as a cost-controlled restricted free agent and only being 23 years old, he’ll be able to be controlled for a while longer. It couldn’t hurt the team to explore this addition if the price is right, and we know the Canes are always discussing moves for anyone that could be open to the change of scenery.
If it took one of the Canes’ middle-tier prospects and a mid-round draft selection to add Strome to the current roster, it’s likely a worth addition considering the once-great upside he had. While it is very unlikely he reaches anything like that potential in his career, he could still become a meaningful contributor. If the price is right, is there any reason not to?