Center Dylan Strome was on the first flight out of Arizona last month the morning after news broke he had been traded to the Blackhawks along with Brendan Perlini. He was eager for the fresh start.
It’s amazing what a new atmosphere can do for a player.
Strome’s productivity has been significantly better with the Hawks than what it was before the Nick Schmaltz trade. In his first 20 games this season with the Arizona Coyotes, Strome posted six points (three goals, three assists). Since then, he’s scored five goals and had an assist on another in 12 games with the Hawks.
“He fits well here,” forward Alex DeBrincat said. “It’s good to have him and see him having some success.”
Strome’s recent surge can be partially attributed to his linemates, DeBrincat and forward Patrick Kane.
DeBrincat and Strome have a successful history together, which dates back to their time with the Erie Otters. The pair commanded respect in the Ontario Hockey League, recording 100-plus points in each of the two seasons they played on the same line (2014-15 and 2015-16).
That’s why it was a simple decision for coach Jeremy Colliton to play DeBrincat and Strome together as much as possible.
“They definitely have an understanding out there and feel comfortable together,” Colliton previously said of the two. “They’ve been able to give us a lot offensively almost every single game. It’s nice, when you build a lineup, to have that combo.”
Naturally, it was easy for DeBrincat and Strome to reignite their previous chemistry with the Hawks. Adding in a star like Kane, who tends to adapt well to his surroundings, was the cherry on top.
This is a line where the Hawks have had a lot of offensive success over the last two weeks.
When Strome is centering Kane and DeBrincat, the trio is averaging 4.79 goals per 60 minutes, according to Natural State Trick. Meanwhile, the Hawks average only 2.54 goals when the three are off the ice.
Kane, who’s notched 12 points in as many games, has had a hand in four of Strome’s five goals. And DeBrincat has found his own success, recording four goals and four assists since Nov. 27.
DeBrincat, Kane and Strome have all the makings to be an effective line, but they need a top pair of defensemen behind them.
Colliton believes the three have shown at times that they can play a complete game, but he’s looking for more consistency from them and the rest of the team.
“The challenge is to do it every shift,” Colliton said. “And they’re not the only line. When you’re on the ice, the game’s on the line, the game’s on your stick, the game’s on your shoulders. We’re looking for that consistency as a team every night. If we can bring it, then we can have some success.”
Notes: The Hawks put center Marcus Kruger on injured reserve with a concussion on Tuesday and recalled center Luke Johnson from Rockford.
The Kruger move comes one day after the skated into Predators forward Ryan Hartman’s elbow in the second period of the Hawks’ 2-1 win on Monday. Kruger basically crawled off the ice, leaving a trail of blood behind and didn’t return for the third period.
After the game, Colliton confirmed Kruger had a concussion and wouldn’t travel with the Hawks to Dallas and Colorado.
Johnson made his NHL debut this season with the Hawks on Oct. 4. He played 13 games with the Hawks — posting one assist — before he was sent to Rockford.