Flyers Prospect Watch: Matthew Strome is the Real Deal

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 24: Matthew Strome celebrates after being selected 106th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

According to Merriam-Webster, a stigma is defined as, “a mark of shame or discredit.” Though categorizing it as “a mark of shame” comes of a bit dramatic, poor skating ability is a stigma that has followed Matthew Strome since before he was drafted.

The former Philadelphia Flyers fourth-round pick is gifted with incredible offensive skill. His skill-set, vision, hockey sense, and physical build provide Strome with all the tools necessary to establish himself as a production NHL winger. Unfortunately, many people fail to view him in that light. People look at past scouting reports and focus in on skating being an area in need of improve. Add that to his two older brothers taking longer than expected to develop and Strome fits the bill for a player just not able to make it in professional hockey.

Casting Strome off already is not only unfair but foolish as well. The reality is that Strome is absolutely killing it for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL. In 64 games, he’s recorded 28 goals and 50 assists. He is beating defenders with remarkable moves and ranks second on the team in scoring. Piling up points is not something new for Strome either. Strome has been filling up the stat sheet since 2016. In his second season with Hamilton, Strome posted 34 goals and 28 assists. Those number increased the following year to 37 goals and 31 assists.

Strome’s goal total has decreased this season, however, he is finding scoring opportunities for teammates more often with 50 assists. He still has an accurate and hard shot but is now establishing himself a great playmaker. Finding ways to contribute even when he’s not lighting the lamp is an important aspect of Strome’s game. He’s not a one-trick pony and can contribute offensively in various ways.

In regards to Strome’s skating, he is steadily improving. It will never be the strongest aspect of his game. However, it is also becoming less and less of a hindrance. Other players have succeeded with far less skating skill than Strome and it should not impede his chance at making an impact.

Though Strome has the makings of an effective middle-six winger in the NHL, the Flyers and their fans need to remain patient. His introduction to the professional game will come by way of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He will join an impressive AHL rookie class including Isaac Ratcliffe, and will have an opportunity to establish a significant role with the team right away. I expect Strome to plat at least one full season in the AHL and possibly see a mid-season call up in 2020-2021.

Unfortunately, it is challenging for someone to shed themselves of a label bestowed upon them. It doesn’t matter how accurate this stigma remains, it seems to follow a person. It is now time to remove the stigma of poor skater from Matthew Strome and start viewing him as the real deal.