Blackhawks: Strome continues to prove why he should be extended

Dylan Strome, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Dylan Strome, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

On November 25, 2018, the Chicago Blackhawks sent Nick Schmaltz to the Arizona Coyotes for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini.  Dylan Strome had an immediate impact on the Blackhawks, notching a goal and an assist two days later in his first game with the Hawks.

Chicago ended up losing that game 8-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights, but it set a great pace for Dylan Strome.  He finished the 2018-19 season with 20 goals (17 with CHI) and 37 assists (34 with CHI) , totaling 57 points (51 with CHI).

At the time, those were the best numbers of his career regarding goals, assists, and points.  The following year, Strome saw his ice time fall off, which led to less production from the former 3rd overall pick.

The next season, Coach Jeremy Colliton continued to scratch Strome and play him in a bottom-six role.  And guess what?  His numbers dropped again.  Despite the low ice time and production, Stan Bowman signed Dylan Strome to a two-year deal worth $6M ($3M AAV) on January 3, 2021.

Now in a contract year, Dylan Strome is showing the Blackhawks and new GM Kyle Davidson just why they should give him another extension.  With 12 games left in the 2021-22 season, Dylan Strome has tied his career-high in goals (20) and is on pace for at least a 50-point season.

In the last 16 games alone, Strome has tallied 11 goals and 11 assists (a points per game average of 1.375), 6 multi-point games, a face-off percentage of 50.57%, and was only held off the scoresheet twice.  On top of this production, Strome also has his first two NHL hat tricks this season (Jan. 26 against Detroit and Mar. 8 against Anaheim).

Going back to the beginning of this season, Dylan Strome was constantly unfavored by Colliton.  Strome was getting healthy scratched regularly, playing in a bottom-six role and getting low minutes.  It took a toll on his confidence, and that reflected in his production.  When Derek King took over as interim head coach, there was a light at the end of the tunnel for Strome.  We did not see immediate results from Strome, but King began giving him more ice time and playing him in a top-six role.

Then it clicked.  Coach King reassembled the line of Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Dylan Strome.  This line has been the Blackhawks most productive line this season, with all three members firing on all cylinders.  It is rare to see a game that does not have at least one of their names scribbled on the scoresheet.

But why does this line work so well?  DeBrincat and Kane have had great chemistry since DeBrincat broke the league, and Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat have been line mates since their time together on the Erie Otters.  They work very well together and always know where the other one is going to be.

With the addition of Taylor Raddysh, DeBrincat and Strome have been reunited with another teammate from Erie.  Raddysh has slotted into the top power play unit alongside Strome, Kane, DeBrincat, and Jones, running a 1-3-1 setup.  Strome is crucial to this power play unit, being placed in the bumper role (usually at the goal line or in front of the net).  In this role, Strome has 5 goals and 10 assists on the power play.

The Blackhawks only have 39 power play goals this season, and Dylan Strome has factored in 15 of them.  However, much of his power play help goes without a tally on the scoresheet.  He is a big body at 6’3”, which is perfect for getting in the way of a netminder.  Without Strome in front of the net, the Hawks would have way fewer power play goals.

To round this list out, Dylan Strome has been by far the Blackhawks most productive center this season.  His 20 goals is 10 way from the next closest center (Jonathan Toews), 23 assists is 4 away from the next closest (also Toews), and 43 points is 14 away from the next closest (Toews once again).

The only stat that Strome falls short to Toews is face-off percentage.  Toews’s 58.11% is a step up from Strome’s 52.76%, but no other regular center comes close to either of their percentages.  This is also a huge step up for Strome’s face-off win percentage that was used to seeing numbers in the 40% range previously.  On top of this, Strome is still young, having just turned 25 on March 7th.  He is a solid top-line center that the Blackhawks should continue to build around.

Dylan Strome is a pending RFA with arbitration rights.  The qualifying offer for Dylan Strome would be $3.6M AAV, which is a slight increase from his current $3M AAV.  If I was Kyle Davidson, I would sign Dylan Strome to a 4-year $14.4M contract ($3.6M AAV).  He is the type of center that I would like to build my team around.