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We have reached the top of the list, and coming in at number one on Islander Country's Top Ten Prospects in the Islanders' System list is 2011 first round pick (5th overall), Canadian born forward, Ryan Strome.
Strome, not only is the Isles top prospect, but is highly regarded as one of the top prospects in all of hockey as well. There is a lot to love about Strome's offensive game, and he has the tools and ability to be a dominant player offensively at the NHL level.
Last season, Strome spent his fourth and final season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Niagara Ice Dogs, and put up dominating offensive numbers. In 53 games, Strome had 34 goals, 60 assists, 94 points, and a plus 43. After his season with Niagara ended, Strome, signed an ATO with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League and made his pro debut. In 10 games with the Sound Tigers towards the end of last year, Strome had two goals and five assists.
The biggest asset Strome has offensively is he is an elite playmaker, which stems from his excellent hands and vision. Strome, has excellent vision, and it allows him to scan the offensive zone to find an open teammate to get the puck to. Strome's hands are just as lethal, because they allow him to stick handle and dangle the puck around a defenseman to either pass the puck to an open teammate, or put a shot on goal himself.
Strome's shot is another excellent weapon he possess. His quick hands allow Strome to get the puck on net quickly when he does take the shot himself instead of passing. A quick shot is a good thing to have, but it is less effective if not accurate (much like a defenseman's one timer from the point). This is not the case with Strome though. His wrist shot is very accurate, making it tough for a defenseman to defend him. They do not know if Strome will use his excellent playmaking abilities to stick handle and quickly pass the puck to an open teammate, or if he will fire a quick wrist shot on goal.
As a smart player, Strome, reads and reacts to the play well, which also makes him hard to defend. Once he makes his debut with the Isles, he arguably could be the teams second best playmaker behind John Tavares right away.
As for skating abilities, Strome does not have blazing speed, but this does not make him a bad skater. He does have a solid first step, and gets good power from his legs. This allows Strome to keep good balance, while making him fast enough to where his skating should not be an issue at the NHL level.
On the defensive end, Strome does need to work on his game in his own zone before becoming an effective NHL player. Strome, has improved tremendously defensively over the last season, but could still use some fine tuning on staying with assignments and in position to avoid a defensive breakdown. I would expect Strome to continue to work out the kinks in his game defensively next year, as scouts labeled him a very hard worker on and off the ice. With some more hard work, Strome should be adequate defensively at the NHL level.
The other thing Strome needs to work on is adding some muscle. He has decent size at 6'1", but his frame is on the smaller side at 185 pounds. Strome, has worked hard to stay strong on the puck, but as he starts to face bigger, more mature competition now, he could be prone to being bumped off the puck easier now due to his smaller frame. At 20 years of age, Strome should put on some more muscle naturally as his body continues to mature too.
When training camp opens in a few weeks, the Isles will give Strome the opportunity to compete for the one forward spot that is open on the roster. Strome's main competition for that one spot likely comes from number two ranked prospect, Brock Nelson. I would expect this to be a fun battle to watch during camp, but Nelson should win out, and Strome at least starts next year in Bridgeport.
Strome, could use some time in the AHL to fine tune his game and adapt to the game at the pro level. Nelson, is currently the more rounded prospect and further along in his development, so the only way Strome beats out Nelson is if either Nelson gets hurt, or just has an extremely poor camp.
The time for Strome is getting close though, and after some seasoning in Bridgeport, the Isles will have a key, top six forward to add soon. The sky is the limit for Strome in the NHL. He has all the tools to be a star player in the near future.
What do you guys think about Strome? Is he the Isles top ranked prospect? If not, who is? Let's hear what you have to say in comments!
Here is our list:
The Honorable Mentions
Number 10: Johan Sundstrom
Number 9: Andrey Pedan
Number 8: Matt Donovan
Number 7: Anders Lee
Number 6: Calvin de Haan
Number 5: Ville Pokka
Number 4: Ryan Pulock
Number 3: Griffin Reinhart
Number 2: Brock Nelson
I thought it would be fun to compare our list to some others as well, so here is:
Core Pronman's list at Hockey Prospectus
Adam French's list at Hockeybuzz.com
So that wraps up our top ten list! With training camps fast approaching now, we will begin to preview the season ahead starting on Friday. Look for different articles about can't miss games next season, some bold predictions for the season ahead, roster breakdowns, division preview/predictions, some interviews, the return of weekly news and notes, and more! After a slow month, September should be action filled as the season comes closer!
Also, be sure to follow me on twitter: @ed_omalley