Dylan Strome is living his NHL dream playing for the Arizona Coyotes, staying in a hotel and avoiding the harsh Pennsylvania winter he endured the past three years playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters.

He just doesn’t know how long it will last.

Strome was the No. 3 overall pick in 2015 and he is in hockey’s version of purgatory: At 19, he is eligible to be sent back to the juniors without burning a year of his contract as long as he doesn’t play 10 games.

In the NFL and NBA, when you’re drafted, you’re in, and Major League Baseball prospects almost always start in the minors.

NHL teams, however, get the chance to test-run some of their top young prospects before committing to them for a full season.

“No one feels bad for you,” Strome said. “It’s not really up to me. Obviously I want to be in the NHL.”

In the same uncertain spot are Coyotes teammates Jakob Chychrun and Lawson Crouse and others around the league, from the New York Islanders’ Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal to the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk. Despite making their teams’ opening-night roster, the players face a nerve-racking nine-game tryout – and decision time is near for many of them.

“It’s normal to have that kind of tryout because you never know what can happen,” said Beauvillier, whose contract will count for this year if he plays his 10th game Tuesday.

The NHL’s transfer agreement with the Canadian Hockey League prevents major-junior players under 20 from going to the American Hockey League for some professional seasoning. So even though Strome had 111 points, Tkachuk 107 points and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner 116 points in juniors last season, they must remain in the NHL or go back to juniors instead of spending time in the minors.

Chychrun pondered the rule often during camp. But he has played well enough to get into seven games and give himself peace of mind. “Now that I’ve gotten a taste of the level here and just seen that I can play here, I think I’m just trying to really just act like a pro,” he said.

The Coyotes sent Max Domi back to juniors two years ago and watched him dominate and blossom as a result, so Coach Dave Tippett understands the nine-game barrier but doesn’t dwell on it.

“We’re more in tune of making sure that we’re doing everything we can to make it so they can play here so the nine games doesn’t matter,” Tippett said. “We have to give them every opportunity, whether through extra coaching, extra workouts … everything you do to try to make sure it gives them the best chance to be successful.”