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2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers prospect review: Matthew Strome

A rookie, hello!

Heather Barry / SB Nation

It’s a new week, and we’re still rolling on through these prospect season reviews. Next up, we’ve got our first proper first year pro on deck. Let’s talk about Matthew Strome! It was a bit of an up and down season for Strome—quite literally, as he split his time between the Phantoms and Reading of the ECHL—as he worked to get himself adjusted to a new team and new level of play.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing—rarely is it for the brand new rookies—but there were still some pieces to like and definitely lots to talk about, so let’s get right into it.

By the numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM SOG SH%
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM SOG SH%
19 2 2 4 4 20 10

So it is a bit of a limited sample that we’re working with here, as Strome only played 19 games for the Phantoms this season, mostly earlier in the year, but it’s still fair to say that the offensive game that we saw from him back in Hamilton wasn’t really clicking for him with the Phantoms. In fairness, while he did have a few chances to show what he could do while playing up in the lineup with some more skilled playmakers, mostly he was playing on more of a depth role, where we aren’t really seeing players getting the chance to explode offensively. It’s not an excuse, just a note, and the point remains that we would have liked to see a bit more from him, ideally, considering what we know of his shot and offensive instincts.

Interesting to note about this stat line is that both of his goals came on the power play, and that’s where he really showed the most flash, all told. Brad and I have almost certainly mentioned a number of times how he took a few chances to distribute the puck from behind the net, because this is a model we’re both kind of obsessed with. And this was a cool thing to see, but generally speaking, Strome showed some strength playing in the netfront position, and this is somewhat expected—as we said, he has great hands, so this is the spot where he should shine.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi For% Corsi For% Relative Scoring Chances For% Goals For Goals Against Goals For%
Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi For% Corsi For% Relative Scoring Chances For% Goals For Goals Against Goals For%
156 163 48.9 -1.82 45.07 3 8 27.27

As we dip into these underlying numbers, that’s when we start to feel decidedly less good. The CF% is somewhat middling, relative to his teammates, and that one we can feel at least somewhat neutral about. But the scoring chance differential as well as the high danger chance differential (38.46 percent) are where things really fall off, as they tell us that the Phantoms were pretty decisively out-chances while Strome was on the ice. That Goals For% is also pretty ugly, but only being on the ice for 11 total goals isn’t exactly a massive sample, and leaves a lot of room for variance, so we’ll make note of it being low, but I’m hesitant to give that one too much weight because of the sample size we’re working with.

And I do want to emphasize that this isn’t something that I’m immediately getting very worked up about, these numbers being poor. Strome has 19 AHL games under his belt this season, and we know he’s still working a lot out in his game. If they fail to rebound at all as he plays more games, that’s certainly going to be a concern, but right now it’s just something to keep an eye out for.

5v5 Neutral Zone Stats

Entry Attempts Entries Controlled Entry% Possession Entry% Exit Attempts Exits Controlled Exit%
Entry Attempts Entries Controlled Entry% Possession Entry% Exit Attempts Exits Controlled Exit%
80 75 36 54.57 56 45 57.78

And this is sort of a curious stat line, with a healthy mix of good and not so good. On the one hand, there’s the number of individual entries generated, as Strome’s averaging 4.41 entries per game (in his first 17 tracked), which is a pretty solid figure, particularly when you consider that he was generally playing pretty limited minutes at 5-on-5. The controlled entry numbers, though, aren’t stellar, but it is worth noting that the possession entry percentage is pretty good, despite that. So what that suggests is that on his entries, while Strome isn’t terribly consistent in either carrying the puck in or making a pass to ensure his teammates have possession from the get-go, he is good on dump-ins at either retrieving the puck for himself by being hard on the forecheck or picking his spots so that his teammates are in good spots to retrieve the puck for him. And that instinct would be a good one, and if he could just trust himself to hold on to the puck a bit more, paired with that, he could quickly move from just being okay on entries to being one of the team’s more consistent difference makers in that department.

Three burning questions

1. Did Strome live up to our expectations this season?

Yes and no, this one is sort of tricky. We knew going in that Strome was going to be something of a prospect, and as such didn’t expect that he was going to be dominant at this level right out of the gates—indeed I even wondered with, between his place on the depth chart and the numbers game the Phantoms were dealing with, if he might be one of the players who was cycled up and down from Reading—and that’s just about what we got this season. But it’s also true that some of us might have hoped for a bit more from him offensively, just based on what he was able to do at the OHL level, so that group might be a little disappointed. But the biggest expectation was that he was going to take some time to figure it all out, and we’re definitely still in that territory.

2. What do we expect from Strome next season?

It seems like this is becoming something of a theme when we’re talking about this crop of first year pros, but it’s the case too that Strome should get a larger role with the team. The Phantoms, at least so far, aren’t looking to have the same over abundance of forwards that they had to try to work with this season, so as long as Strome is able to keep pace, he should have a more secure spot in the lineup, just by virtue of the roster numbers.

He has a strong foundation to build on, as he performed well in his stint with the Royals (nine goals and 20 points in 25 games), and that’s worth noting as well. We still want to keep our expectations reasonable, but at the very least he’s in a good position to be able to take the next step forward in adjusting to the AHL game.

And, of course, more of that good stuff on the power play please.

3. What would we like to see Strome to improve on?

*sigh* I know we’ve probably beaten this into the ground by now, so we’re not going to spend too much time harping on it, but the skating still needs some work. We’ve seen a bit of improvement in it, but that’s going to be a big part of what’s going to need to come along if Strome wants to be able to keep pace (no pun intended) at the AHL level.

But the more general hope is just that he’s able to get settled into the system and work towards finding his role with his team and his game at the AHL level. It isn’t always an easy adjustment, and we don’t expect it to be immediate, but we would like for him to work towards finding his niche that would let him be effective more consistently. He’ll need to make some adjustments to his game, and he’s just got to take the time and put in the work to figure out what all of that’s going to end up looking like.