It might be tough for Dylan Strome to duplicate his performance with the Chicago Blackhawks this season. The under-performing center found his game once he was traded to Chicago and posted 51 points in 58 games. However, Strome could be in line for another breakout season as the Blackhawks have concentrated their focus of Strome’s offseason workouts on strengthening his lower-body, which the team feels is his biggest weakness, according to Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Because the 6-foot-3 Strome uses a short stick which forces him to play leaning slightly forward. The down side to him doing that is that his vision is limited as his head is leaning downwards towards the ice. The team’s plan is to develop his lower-body and core, so he can play more upright and increase his vision.
“He has all the potential to be able to do exactly what he wants to do,” said Paul Goodman, the Hawks’ strength and conditioning coach. “But physically, [he’s] just going through a maturation process and understanding how his body can actually be pushed further and also be able to translate into better speed, better power, better change of direction, better vision.”
- Of course it’s still quite early to decide who any team might be losing to Seattle in the upcoming expansion draft in 2021, The Athletic’s Adam Vingan (subscription required) writes that quite a bit has already changed for the Nashville Predators as the team now must protect defenseman Dante Fabbro, which complicates matters for the team. Nashville was hoping to only have to protect Roman Josi (with the assumption that he re-signs with Nashville), Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. That would have allowed the team to protect seven forwards. Instead, the team will be forced to protect Fabbro and will only be able to protect four forwards instead, thereby exposing an extra three forwards to Seattle.
- The Athletic’s Michael Russo (subscription required) writes that with the recent signing of Ryan Donato to a two-year deal at $1.9MM, the Minnesota Wild’s top priority is to ink restricted free agent Kevin Fiala now. While Donato opted to sign a two-year bridge deal to prove his value to the franchise, Russo believes that with general manager Paul Fenton’s familiarity with Fiala, the GM might consider trying to lock up Fiala to a much longer deal and hope to get a bargain out of him down the road. Evolving Hockey’s contract projections suggest that it would cost Minnesota about $4.97 AAV to lock him up for five years, but is the team willing to gamble on him is the real question.
- The St. Louis Blues have had a relatively quiet offseason this summer, but that could change next season as the team has two key players who will be unrestricted free agents next season, including center Brayden Schenn and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Both are critical to the team, but St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tom Timmermann writes that keeping both will be challenging as they are both still quite young and should garner quite a bit of attention on the open market next summer unless general manager Doug Armstrong can find a way to lock them up early.