(TSN.ca) — The Arizona Coyotes assigned 2015 first-round pick Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the junior Ontario Hockey League on Sunday. The 19-year-old Strome had an assist and averaged 13:41 of ice time in seven games with the Coyotes this season. He was drafted third overall. “Dylan has made exceptional progress and continues to make strides to being an elite centre in this league,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. “At this point in time we felt it was best for his development to get him back playing in junior, but his future in the NHL is very bright.” Because Strome still has junior eligibility, he isn’t allowed to play in the Coyotes’ farm system.
“At this point in time we felt it was best for his development to get him back to playing in junior.” Oh absolutely. Because putting up 240 points in just his last 124 junior games didn’t show he’s done enough there. He shouldn’t develop against pro players, against men, in the AHL. It’s best he plays against weaker teens in junior. Great rule you have there, NHL and CHL.
Look, I’ll try not to beat down this rule any more than we already have here at BostonPucks.com. We wrote about how it’s bad for development here last year. We covered it weeks ago actually using Dylan Strome as example, about how the rule sending Strome back to the OHL is dumb, and how Auston Matthews avoided this exact same scenario (he hasn’t scored in 12 games by the way) by choosing Europe over the CHL, which makes him AHL eligible even though he’s 19.
The CHL and NHL need to get together sooner than later and create some sort of exception to the rule for lottery picks or highly regarded prospects to be AHL eligible if they aren’t 20-year-old’s before the end of the current calendar year. If Strome’s birthday was this December he could go to AHL Tucson and really learn, and really develop in the pro game. But he’s born in March and misses the cut off by 65 days or so. Now he’s got to pick up little Timmy after high school who doesn’t have his license yet so they can get to Otter’s practice together.
I just don’t see how playing against 16 and 17-year-old boys he’s dominated the past two seasons helps this kid survive against men in the NHL next year. And what’s worse is none of this is Strome’s fault. He’s young and needs seasoning. I get it. But he’s at the mercy of an archaic rule that needs to be dumped as the NHL grows younger by the second. He should be in the AHL and “that’s all I have to say about that” (Forest Gump).
PS: He’s also going from a 19-year-old’s dream Scottsdale lifestyle with amazing “scenery” to Erie-friggin’-Pennsylvania. Woof. I wouldn’t wish that upon any young man. Not even my worst enemy.