Dylan Strome won the OHL scoring title with 129 points in 68 regular season games. Dylan Strome wasn't the best forward on his team, and it's not like it was close. Playing on the same team as Connor McDavid in Erie has some obvious advantages, but it does raise questions about the sustainability of Strome's performance once he's no longer playing on the same team as the player who may well be the best of his generation. The question is, does Strome deserve to be ranked fifth overall or is his success at the junior level mostly a product of his environment?
Obviously, this isn't the first time two excellent forward prospects have played for the same junior team in their draft year. In fact, two forward teammates have both been drafted inside the top ten on ten previous occasions since 1981. In the chart below, you'll see that the player drafted first tends to bring a higher percentage of his offense with him to the NHL:
Many of these stories are still being written and we're working with a sample size of just ten pairs, but the overall trend is clear: those drafted first are often better offensive players in junior, and they do a better job of bringing that offense with them to the NHL. The median percentage of offense retained for those drafted first is 38%, which would mean a career points per game of 0.96 for Connor McDavid. The median is just 30% for those drafted second, implying a career points per game rate of just 0.52 for Dylan Strome. That's not bad, but the team drafting him is probably expecting something better.
Let's take a look at Dylan Strome's comparables to see if they might provide us with that more optimistic outlook. In this case, a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted goals per game rate between 0.55 and 0.68 and adjusted points per game rate between 1.52 and 1.85 (90% to 110% of Strome's production), and was selected somewhere between 1st and 10th overall. Here are the results:
This is an interesting set of comparables. Four of the eight have an awful lot of road in front of them and don't really help us to project Strome all that much. The other four? Well, they've done a lot better than half a point per game in the NHL. In the chart below I've listed each player's number of regular season games, his time on ice per game (if the NHL was recording TOI for more than half of the games he played), his points per game, and the first season he played in at least forty games:
Taken together, I think these two different ways of approaching Strome provide us with a reasonable range of expectations. At the low end, he's likely to be a solid NHL center who can put up about half a point per game (i.e. what Couturier has done the last couple of years). If he hits his ceiling, he's one of the best centers in the league.
Next up tomorrow morning: Lawson Crouse