Dylan Strome snaps long skid with big night as Blackhawks rout Ducks

Strome hadn’t scored a goal since Jan. 5 before finding the net twice in a 6-2 win Tuesday, the latest twist in a strange season for the pending RFA.

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Dylan Strome scored twice as the Blackhawks routed the Ducks on Tuesday.

Dylan Strome scored twice as the Blackhawks routed the Ducks on Tuesday.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Dylan Strome’s season heading into a crucial contract negotiation period hasn’t gone as planned.

But the 22-year-old center — he’ll turn 23 on Sunday — might have earned a few extra thousand Tuesday night, scoring twice and adding an assist in the Blackhawks’ explosive 6-2 win over the visiting Ducks.

Strome hadn’t scored a goal since Jan. 5, dealing with a high-ankle sprain and a slow recovery in the meantime.

“He’s been getting better and better over the last few weeks,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “More and more active away from the puck. Playing center, he’s been really good in [the defensive] zone. . . . It’s obviously been a point of emphasis for him to really be good down there, so he can get out of there and play in the offensive zone.”

The goals were just Strome’s 11th and 12th of the season. If he stays healthy for the final month, he’s on pace to finish with 47 points in 70 appearances, a much lower rate than his 51 points in 58 games with the Hawks last year.

But while he has admitted the weakness in his ankle will likely nag him until the offseason, he demonstrated Tuesday the play-making, vision and opportunism that can make him a solid top-six center. 

His line with Alex Nylander and Patrick Kane was dominant, outshooting the opposing line 19-11 with a 13-8 edge in scoring chances and collectively scoring four goals. The win was the Hawks’ third in a row, slightly reopening the door for a playoff push. If they eventually make that push, a late-season surge by Strome could be quite helpful.

“We’re a pretty streaky team,” Strome said. “When we win one or two in a row, we feel like we go on a little bit of a run, and we’re playing some good hockey. Obviously, the counter to that is that we’ve lost four or five in a row at points.”

Perhaps most interesting will be this summer. Strome’s entry-level contract is expiring; he’ll be a restricted free agent. And his play during his three-year entry-level deal with the Coyotes and Hawks has been all over the board, painting an inconclusive picture of his value.

Strome’s older brother, Ryan, scored 96 points over his first three NHL seasons, then signed a two-year deal with a $2.5 million cap hit with the Islanders in 2016. Dylan is on pace for 114 points over his first three seasons and has shown more star potential than Ryan did, so he’ll almost certainly get more than that. Exactly how much is tough to determine now.

Hawks’ ticket values dropping

Standing-room tickets for Tuesday’s game at the United Center were available on the resale market around midday for under $10, a startlingly cheap price.

Many empty seats were also noticeable during the game, even though the Hawks’ sellout streak technically continued with an announced crowd of 21,345.

Hawks tickets are the ninth-most in-demand in the NHL this season, according to Vivid Seats. That’s still in the upper third but well below where the Hawks sat for much of the last decade. 

The average Hawks resale ticket price so far this season has been $91, also per Vivid Seats, exceeding the $77 average for the Bulls.

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