By: Alex Kinkopf
November 21, 2017 3:15 PM
Attitude is everything. Success will fall into place.
And the numbers aren't lying.
Averaging a point-and-a-half per game through his first dozen in the American Hockey League, Dylan Strome is both embracing and enjoying his transition to Tucson, where the eventual goal, and an obvious one at that, is to ultimately transfer back to Glendale in a role with the Coyotes.
Strome's approach with the Roadrunners has been almost as impressive as his output on the ice.
“Things have been pretty smooth,” he said following Tuesday’s practice.
“I’m getting the opportunity here to produce, to be on a power play unit, a penalty kill unit and get a lot of minutes. I’m enjoying my time here, I’m enjoying the team winning, and I’m really working hard. We’re building a culture around here that’s based around the expectancy to win, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Strome’s 18 points (4G, 14A) are tied for the league lead in rookie scoring. He’s accumulated eight (3G, 5A) in the past four games alone.
The Mississauga, ONT native is just one point away from matching Brendan Perlini’s 17-game point total from last season, when the current Coyote compiled 14 goals and five assists in his short stint with the Roadrunners.
Perlini’s numbers in Tucson a year ago opened eyes. Since then, he’s amassed 28 points in 74 games with the Coyotes. Work does pay off.
Point production doesn’t paint the entire picture of one’s development, though. For Strome, the question has never been of his ability to score, but of his speed, his skating.
As to what his main focus has been in Tucson? “My overall quickness,” he said.
“I feel like when I have the puck I’ve had speed, and I’m creating plays quicker. My linemates play fast, and I’m used to slowing the game down, but now I’m focusing on keeping my game going, keeping the puck moving, keep the game moving fast and in front of me, and with my linemates and the way that they skate, I think I have to do that, and I think I’m adjusting to it.”
Centering a pair of other first round draft picks hasn’t hurt Strome either, and he’s quick to point out the value his linemates Lawson Crouse and Nick Merkley have had on his own game.
The trio has combined for 28 points (12G, 16A) since they were first united on the team’s first line on October 27.
“[Crouse] has been a great addition to our line, he’s come down here and almost put up a point per game,” Strome said keenly. “He’s been winning puck battles, winning races, and in those plays where he doesn’t pick up a point, he’s driving to the net, he’s creating a lane for [Merkley] and I, so he’s a great player to play with.”
“[Merkley] is so good with the puck and finding that open ice, and I love that about him,” Strome said of the winger he’s clicked so well with. “He always wants to have the puck on the back of his stick and he usually puts it in the back of the net, so it’s been fun to be on his line.”
Along with being a staple on a fruitful first line, playing for a first-place team has been a pleasure for Strome, who was so accustomed to success during his OHL years.
“We’re doing pretty well, we’re pretty high up in the standings, and it’s obviously a lot more fun when your team’s winning, and we’re definitely doing that,” he said confidently. “We’re working hard in practice, and that’s really showing in games.”
The next challenge? Beating the San Diego Gulls on home ice Wednesday night, something the Roadrunners have never done.
"Those guys have had a good start to the year against us here," he said. "I think we’re going to turn it around tomorrow."