On a Canadian National Junior Team consisting of nine different players who serve as captain of their respective CHL club, Erie Otters centreman Dylan Strome has been chosen to lead.
Strome, who played in seven games with the Arizona Coyotes early this season, brings NHL experience and proven leadership to the table as he wears the ‘C’ alongside assistants Mathew Barzal (Seattle Thunderbirds) and Thomas Chabot (Saint John Sea Dogs) in Montreal and Toronto later this month.
The selection comes as no surprise to Otters general manager Dave Brown, who has witnessed Strome’s growth and maturation in Erie since the beginning of the 2013-14 season after he was chosen second overall in the OHL Priority Selection.
The 19-year-old, who inherited the captaincy from Connor McDavid to begin the 2015-16 season, has returned to Erie with a good attitude, looking to lead the Otters to the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Windsor after what could possibly become a fourth straight 50-win season for the franchise.
“Dylan is ultra-competitive,” said Brown. “He’s returned with a great outlook, one that has been infectious in our locker room and has led to a lot more activity in the weight room since his arrival. I think he realizes that ultimate success doesn’t come instantly and its something you build up to over the course of your career. He’s taken this minor setback and turned it into a learning experience and it’s had a great effect on everyone in Erie.”
While Strome takes the lead as one of five returning players from last year’s sixth place finish in Helsinki, Finland, four other OHL captains in Anthony Cirelli (Oshawa Generals), Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads), Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) and Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw Spirit) join him in the quest for gold.
Additionally, Canadian teammates Jérémy Lauzon (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies), Nicolas Roy (Chicoutimi Saguenéens), Noah Juulsen (Everett Silvertips) and the aforementioned Barzal also wear the ‘C’ with their CHL teams.
“After representing Canada last year, Dylan knows what it takes to compete at the World Juniors,” Brown continued. “He has that burn to return and accomplish the goal that wasn’t achieved last year in Finland.”
Otters teammate Taylor Raddysh, who currently leads the OHL in scoring at the holiday break, rounds out the six OHL players representing Canada this month.
A second round pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning last summer, Raddysh scored twice to lead Canada to a 5-0 pre-tournament win over Finland in Montreal on Monday. Cirelli followed up with a two-goal effort of his own on Wednesday as Canada blanked the Czech Republic 5-0 in Ottawa.
Canada rounds out the pre-tournament schedule on Friday at 7:00pm ET against Switzerland at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Preliminary round play gets underway on Boxing Day when Canada faces Russia at 8:00pm ET.