When the Islanders selected Ryan Strome last year I went to the internet and began reading about analysts predictions of his potential and his style of play. Over the past year I have watched and read countless interviews regarding Strome and what he could be in the future.
When he was returned to the Ice Dogs at the beginning of the season, I was glad that we gave him the chance to hone his skills and work on discrepancies in his game. It also gave him another chance at the Memorial Cup which saw the Ice Dogs make a deep run and give Strome valuable experience as a player and a leader.
Currently, the Islanders have a star 1st line center in John Tavares. Frans Nielsen has spent time as our 2nd line center, but most would agree he is an average 2nd line center, but an excellent 3rd line center. His ability to shut down other opponents, win faceoffs, and complete the PK makes him an optimal 15 minutes/game 3rd line center, thus leaving an opening at our 2nd line center position, which hasn't been occupied by a true 2nd line talent in a very long time.
This is where I think Strome will fit into the Islanders. He has been noted for his two-way play and ability to set up goal scorers, or score when playing with playmakers. This year he focused on his defensive abilities and barely sacraficed point production. He really established himself as a scoring threat that was also stable on the defenisve side of the game.
So, what are my expectations of Strome?
I would like to see Strome work towards a Ryan Kesler style of player (minus the diving). A 2nd line center who nets 70+ points a season (20-25g, 45-50a). I like Kesler's play and what he embodies as a player. They have similar frames (RK - 6'2" 200 lbs, RS - 6'1" 185 lbs) and both play a two-way style. Strome will continue to grow and strengthen over the next few years like we saw Tavares accomplish as he matured. Kesler makes the Canucks 2nd line a threat every game, and I would love to see Strome bring this to the Islanders.
Overall - I expect Strome to be similar to Kesler in play, posting 20-25g, 40-45a, be a scoring threat while rounding out his play by being solid defensively by the 2014-15 season.