<
>

Strome taking it "day by day "

In the matter of 24 hours, Islanders first-round draft pick Ryan Strome signed his three-year, entry-level contract and made the team's opening-night, 23-man roster.

The likelihood that the skilled 18-year-old center will remain with the Islanders beyond nine games is slim. Anything more than that burns a year of eligibility on his freshly-inked contract and it's clear Strome needs more time to develop.

But in the meantime, he'll try to soak up all the sage advice he can -- whether it's Matt Moulson pulling him aside to watch John Tavares or Rick DiPietro giving him breakaway tips.

"No matter how long I'm here, I just want to learn as much as I can," Strome said. "I just want to gain as much experience as I can and learn from the guys -- there are so many good leaders here."

Coach Jack Capuano said Strome will not be in Saturday's lineup against Florida and that it's possible he won't play in a game at all. That's okay with Strome, who said he has gained invaluable experience just by practicing with everyday NHL players.

"It's day by day for me," Strome said. "However, long I'm here I just want to get better. Every day I'm here I'm getting better. I can feel it and I'm learning so much. I'm very excited about the opportunity I have -- at least for another day."

Assuming the Islanders decide Strome needs more time to play at the junior level, he will be sent back to the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs, where he finished last season with 33 goals and 73 assists.

Strome will also have the chance to represent Canada at this year's World Junior Hockey Championships.