ARLINGTON, V.A. — With the Washington Capitals in need of a spark while down 3-0 to the Boston Bruins in their season opener, Dylan Strome understood the assignment. With his powerhouse of a second line that features 6-5 Anthony Mantha and 6-6 Aliaksei Protas on his wings, the 6-3 pivot turned on the jets and got the puck into the offensive zone. He pulled off a toe drag and somehow managed to hold onto the puck before sliding it over to Mantha for a goal on a play that shocked even No. 39.
“I’ll be honest, I was kind of surprised to see it pop at the end,” Mantha explained. “Usually, when goes toe drag like that, they go for a shot or something. And then it just popped out. Obviously, he’s the kind of player that makes those plays, and that’s exactly what he did.”
After not receiving a qualifying offer from the Chicago Blackhawks, Dylan Strome hit free agency for the first time in his career. The Capitals reached out and ultimately signed him to a “prove it” one-year, $3.5 million contract. And it’s still early, but the team has liked what they’ve seen from the 25-year-old as he starts anew in D.C.
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Through four preseason games, Strome had two goals and two assists. Then, he picked up a primary assist in his debut on a nice play that injected some life into Washington. Taking all of that into account, Strome has easily won the second-line center role, which was up for grabs going into training camp. He has excelled in the face-off dot as well and is looking to make the most of the change in scenery.
“Just playing with the puck and making plays, the confidence to learn how to play with some of the best players in the league, that’s the biggest thing,” Strome said of gaining confidence coming into the year.
Needed this goodness from Strome and Mo pic.twitter.com/LG0L0Vbgv3
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 13, 2022
For T.J. Oshie and the team, he’s a strong addition, and his versatility, work ethic and positivity have already made him a key part of the top six.
“It’s been great. Obviously, he’s played very well for us. Fits ins upper, super well with all the guys, Stromer along with everyone else,” Oshie said. “Just great people, great additions to the locker room. And obviously the way they’ve been playing on the ice, it kind of speaks for itself.”
While filling in for an injured Nicklas Backstrom at 2C, Strome has also subbed in for him on the power play. The team is hoping that the 2015 third-overall selection can help rejuvenate the man advantage, which went 0-for-4 in the opener.
“It’s always fun to see new faces on the team because they bring something [new]… he’s pretty skilled player. Can shoot the puck and pass the puck,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “It’s going to be fun.”