Flyers

Always learning and listening, Matthew Strome won't stop with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Matthew Strome doesn't mind hearing it.

The constant belaboring of one weakness would drive most teenagers up a wall.

But not Strome.

He's a learner and a listener, traits he developed growing up with two older brothers who turned into first-round NHL draft picks. When you have such influences, taking advice and using it becomes greatly valued.

So a setting like July development camp is ideal for Strome, who was drafted by the Flyers last month in the fourth round. He was considered a talent worthy of the top two rounds, but the 18-year-old winger has trouble skating. As a result, he dropped.

"Call a spade a spade — his skating has to improve," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said in June after the draft. "We all know it. He's a good hockey player with good size. He makes plays, scores goals and knows how to play the game.

"He's got one deficiency there he can focus on and we like where we got him. It's up to Matthew to put the work in."

Eager and willing, Strome started putting the work in among the 40 prospects at Flyers development camp, which ended last week. From the get-go, the annual instruction puts a strong emphasis on skating.

"That is the whole point of being here for a week," Hextall said. "Matthew Strome, right? Skating. He's learning to be a better skater."

Like an impressionable student, Strome soaked up the knowledge, particularly from Flyers skating coach Slava Kouznetsov.

"Coming here the first day, it was more weight transferring stuff, yesterday was edges and today was escaping out of contact," Strome said after the first three days of camp. "So I think there's a bunch of different stuff that I'm going to take back home from here and just continue to work on that throughout the summer."

Strome is always working, thanks to his brothers, Ryan and Dylan, who play for the Oilers and Coyotes, respectively. They push Matthew to be better.

"That's what I'm trying to do," Strome said. "In the summer working with my brothers, they just keep saying that it never stops."

Ryan was drafted fifth overall in 2011, while Dylan went third overall in 2015. Times have been busy for the Strome family, as Ryan was traded from the Islanders to the Oilers two days before Matthew was drafted by the Flyers.

"Even my brother Ryan, he just got traded, he's still working on stuff," Strome said. "It never stops, something new always pops up. Whenever something new pops up, just be determined to get good at it, and once you're good at it, move onto the next thing and keep working from there."

Strome leans on his brothers, no matter how chaotic their schedules become.

"Text every single day, FaceTime once a week, maybe," Strome said. "But mainly just texting and just communicating — I think that's the biggest thing. We don't see each other that much throughout the year, but when we do, we just make the most of it.

"They'll be on me. They know what I can do. They're so supportive of me."

It's the driving force behind Strome's appreciation for learning and listening.

"It's a big help," Strome said. "I just turned to them for advice whenever I needed it last year and now during the camp, those are the two guys I turn to the most when I need something for them to help me with."

Knowing the skating can be rounded into shape with time and attention, the Flyers clearly saw a lot to like in Strome's positives. He's 6-foot-3, 201 pounds with skill and smarts. His stick work is developed and he knows how to score. Last season in the OHL, his second year of junior competition, Strome led the Hamilton Bulldogs with 34 goals and 62 points in 66 regular-season games. He also had 28 assists and was more than a point-per-game player in the postseason, delivering eight points (one goal, seven assists) in seven contests.

"I think my shot and my hockey IQ," Strome said of his strengths. "Just knowing where the play is going to go before it gets there."

As he prepares for another junior season, Strome will keep absorbing advice along the way. Not just from his brothers now, but also from the Flyers.

"Learn from some of the older guys here and just see what it takes to make it to rookie camp, make it to main camp and then just go from there," Strome said. "Just taking it all in, learning from the video sessions, from the sports science stuff and just going from there."