Dylan Strome has learned how to take the NHL draft hoopla in stride.
The Erie Otters centre was in minor hockey in 2011 when his brother, New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, was a Niagara IceDogs standout who played his way into being a No. 5 overall pick. That year, young Dylan saw how to keep the horse in front of the cart.
"One thing about Ryan was he never focused too much on the NHL side of things," Strome, who is NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked North American skater, said prior to Erie's 7-2 win over the Ottawa 67's on Sunday. "He put his focus on the OHL matters at hands. I think that was the biggest thing. He always said, 'never get too high on the highs, never get too low on the lows.' You're going to have good and bad games. You just have to focus on having more good shifts than bad shifts. And he was good at that. I watched him do that for four years in the OHL. It was great watching him have four- or five-point nights and be calm about it, and have zero-point nights and look calm even though you could tell he was frustrated."
Like many taller forwards, the 6-foot-3, 187-pound Strome needed a full year in the OHL to adapt to the pace of major junior and improve his skating. Now that he is a year older and wiser, the Mississauga native has been able to show his full potential; on top of scoring prolifically, he's also been recognized for being strong on faceoffs and attentive in the defensive zone.
Strome credits that development to the Otters coaching staff under head coach Kris Knoblauch and the fact he's been part of contending teams.
"We've got a good team, highly offensive but also a pretty good defensive team," said Strome, who has 92 points in 48 games after picking up three on Sunday. "I think we're built for the playoff run. This year, it's been pretty fun. We've had great success when we do the little things."
Strome was able to shepherd the Otters through the nearly two-month stretch where Connor McDavid was out with an injury and then left to join Team Canada. Erie regressed only slightly without the world's best teenaged player in the lineup.
"He's a Top 5 pick for sure," Otters wing Nick Baptiste said of Strome. "He's exceptional. We're lucky to have two exceptional players on our team."
Strome came out on the short end of a 6-0 outcome 10 days ago in the CHL Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, Ont., where his NHLer brother performed the ceremonial puckdrop. While it might have seemed like a tough deal for a 17-year-old, Dylan was thrilled.
"It was pretty cool that they had Ryan do that, he was a big star there. "He came to our game the next night in Guelph, where we had a bit better fate [with Strome scoring a third-period tying goal in a 3-2 Otters victory]. All in all, it was a lot of fun."
1. Where do you think you've made the greatest strides this season?
"My skating has got a lot better since last year. That's the biggest thing with creating open ice. Playing on the first power play and first and second line. It's just a matter of coaches giving you the opportunity and capitalizing on them."
2. The Joe Thornton comparisons have been inevitable, but who else do you watch in the NHL?
"I watch John Tavares, obviously because he plays with New York [with Ryan Strome]. He's one of the most powerful guys in the league and that was thought to be his downfall a couple of years ago. And now that's his strong suit, so I take a lot from that example"
3. Okay, a few fun questions: between you, Ryan and Matthew (who's eligible for the 2015 OHL priority selection draft), who does the most to help out around the house?
"I'll say me. I'm always the one picking up the dishes and stuff like that. But I'm sure the other two would beg to differ."
4. What is your favourite movie or TV show?
"24, with Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer. That's something we always watch together as a family when we're all together."
5. Not including the Otters, who has the nicest jerseys in the OHL?
"I like the Kitchener Rangers' thirds, the red ones with the Ranger on the front."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.