If Nino Niederreiter has a chance to win an NHL job again for the first time and Brock Nelson has people penciling him into an NHL lineup soon, Ryan Strome is the Islanders' true top prospect and very nearly ready for stardom.
Too much? Perhaps. But Strome has stirred hype with good reason after two dominant post-draft years in the OHL and a strong 10-game debut in the AHL at the end of 2012-13.
His imaginative vision makes him a high-end prospect, his wrist shot makes him a scoring threat that should translate to the NHL level, his extended amateur tutelage should serve him well as he adapts to the pro game, and oh, might as well insert something about training with John Tavares here.
In short, Strome's promise is high enough that even if he doesn't make the opening night Islanders roster this fall, chances are he will soon be an established pro who slots in behind John Tavares in value. That's how he ends up at #3 on our Spring 2013 Top 25 Islanders Under 25.
Some prospect watchers have said he would essentially be a first overall pick if he'd not been in the deep 2011 draft. That's probably too much praise, but it's reflective of just how high expectations are for Strome even outside the Islanders organization.
The only remaining question is whether he can be a plus top-two center in the NHL or if his talents will be relegated to wing. Many once asked that question of John Tavares.
Here is how our 25U25 panel rated Strome:
And here is why:
Mike o' FIG:
He probably could be a first line center on many teams. He'll be a second liner on ours. And that doesn't suck.
Hamonic is better today, but Strome is going to be something else.
I saw some of Strome in the World Juniors and a bit of Strome in Bridgeport and all of that left me wanting to see a lot of Strome in the NHL. Garth Snow seems to reach a bit on 1st rounders (de Haan, Niederreiter, Reinhart) and Strome was no different. But from what I've seen of Strome, Snow may have gotten this one right. I'd hate to put all our firepower on one line, but Strome would look really nice on John Tavares' wing for the next 7 years.
Pure Potential time and boy does Strome have a lot of it.
As we prepare for next Sunday's draft and a new infusion of young talent into the system, our Spring 2013 top 25 under 25 countdown is winding down. Here is who we've covered so far, and you know quite well who remains:
25U25 Spring 2013 Countdown
6. F Casey Cizikas
15: d Calvin de Haan
16: F Anders Lee