Ryan Strome has been through these Islanders prospect camps before, so you could forgive the 2011 No. 5 overall pick if he were keeping his eyes trained more on September, when he will go to the team's training camp with his best shot at a roster spot.
But the 20-year-old doesn't see it that way. And his attitude about this week's camp -- which included its feature Blue-Orange scrimmage before 5,172 fans at Nassau Coliseum Thursday -- is one more reason why Strome is the Isles' best and brightest prospect at the moment.
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"This year may be even more important to show you're head and shoulders above the rest of the guys here," Strome said. "In previous years it was important to stand out, but this year, you really want to show you're capable of playing at that next level and, I don't want to say better, but a stronger player than some of these guys."
Strome is well into his summer workouts as he tries to become a stronger player, one who can win puck battles along the wall at the NHL level. He has a good workout partner back home in the Toronto area. This is the second summer Strome has been working out with Isles star John Tavares.
"We've been going for about six weeks now, going hard. It sounds cheesy, but I can't be more thankful for what he's done for me," Strome said. "It's unbelievable how much he's taken me under his wing, provided me every opportunity to learn, to get better. Everything from diets to the gym, on the ice -- it's been fantastic. I'm really looking forward to these last six, eight weeks, because I think I can grow even more."
Strome set up Long Beach native Joey Diamond for the opening goal in the scrimmage and ended the night with a goal and two assists. He got a taste of the pro game last season, playing the final 10 games with Bridgeport. He had two goals and five assists, then spent time as a "black ace" with the Isles' playoff taxi squad.
He'll be fighting for a roster spot with fellow prospect campers Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, both of whom have an edge in age and experience.
"You look at guys like Nelson, [Johan] Sundstrom, who worked their tails off and have a shot now," Strome said. "You can learn from every situation. Nothing is given."