Why trading Dylan Strome could open up options for the Blackhawks
By Jake Wheeler
Dylan Strome has been a good addition for the Chicago Blackhawks since acquiring him from the Arizona Coyotes in return for Nick Schmaltz.
In 116 regular-season games as a Blackhawk, Dylan Strome has amassed a stat line of 29-60-89, primarily playing with either Alex DeBrincat or Patrick Kane. If Strome has been a good addition, why should the Blackhawks consider trading him?
To start, the 6’3 center had a worse statistical season this year than during the season in which he was acquired. While other Blackhawks also had down years, most notably Alex DeBrincat, it is discouraging to see his numbers drop after having a full offseason under the Blackhawks’ guidelines.
Two more big factors are Strome’s face-off percentage and his inability to play wing. This season while at home, Strome won 50.8% of his draws. While the team was away, he won 45.4% of his draws. Typically, you want to see a center winning at least 55% of their face-offs because they’d then win more than half of their draws, which will lead to more options for defensive zone draws.
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Since Strome is only average at face-offs, Jeremy Colliton experimented by putting Strome on Kirby Dach’s wing, after the young center emerged and saw more playing time. Due to Strome’s frame and skating technique, he is too slow to play on the wing.
Another factor, as partially mentioned above, is the emergence of other players. Kirby Dach took big strides at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs, which will likely cement him as the 2C this season. Since Strome does not have a good face-off percentage and due to his inability to play wing, he is not a good fit for the 3C role.
Philipp Kurashev took some strides in Rockford during his rookie year this season and put up 19 points in 36 games, while also going with the Blackhawks to Edmonton during the playoffs. Another player that could step into his role is Pius Suter. Suter was signed from the ZSC Lions of the Swiss league and had 53 points in 50 games this season. It has been speculated that Suter could play the 3C role this season. Both Kurashev and Suter can play left wing which makes them more versatile.
The final factor is Strome’s pending RFA status, which is making things complicated. The Blackhawks have about $8 million in cap space with Dominik Kubalik and a starting goalie to sign. Moving Strome would allow the Blackhawks to recoup some high draft picks, especially after losing some picks in the Andrew Shaw trade. Strome could net some draft picks within the first three rounds, which would help bolster the Blackhawks prospect pool.
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While Strome has been a good addition, it seems like a good idea to explore the trade market for him. Whether the Blackhawks actually trade him or not is to be decided, but with limited cap space and the emergence of other players, Strome’s time in a Blackhawks uniform might be limited.