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What Can Capitals Expect From Strome This Season?

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Capitals center Dylan Strome

The Washington Capitals got to work to open NHL free agency, inking a number of names and revamping the roster. And at center, they made an interesting move, signing Dylan Strome to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

It’s a “prove-it” deal for the 2015 third-overall pick, who is coming off a strong season with the Chicago Blackhawks that saw him dish a career-high 22 goals and add 26 assists for 48 points in 69 games. However, he hit the market after not receiving a qualifying offer.

What exactly can the Capitals expect from Strome, though, in 2022-23?

First off, he has shown he is capable of being a top-6 center, and now he has to prove it. Although the team said that Nicklas Backstrom intends to return at some point in the season, hip resurfacing surgery is a tough procedure to come back from. And as time goes on, it appears less likely that No. 19 will be back, at least when considering the regular season.

That leaves Strome as the next pivot in line behind Evgeny Kuznetsov; Connor McMichael is coming into his sophomore year and still has room to grow, and Lars Eller is coming off a season of inconsistency and hasn’t shown he can be a full-time second-line center, especially when given the opportunity when slotting in for Backstrom to open 2021-22.

READ MORE ON WHN: Ovechkin Says NHL Will ‘Lose A Lot’ If Backstrom Doesn’t Return For Washington Capitals

With Strome, Washington has a player who is capable of 50-plus point seasons. He is a smart playmaker with a high hockey IQ, good vision and quick hands. The 6-3, 200-pound center also has a great shot, takes care of the puck and can win face-offs — he won 52.7 percent of his draws in 2021-22. The only area he could stand to improve is his speed and skating, as well as his play in his own end.

Over the last four seasons, Strome has hit the 50-point mark twice. Two of those seasons were shortened due to COVID-19, but if 2019-20 and 2020-21 had been full 82-game seasons, he would have been on pace for 45 and 46-point seasons respectively.

If he starts on the second line, he will likely work alongside T.J. Oshie and, as of right now, Anthony Mantha. Those two can do a lot of damage when healthy, and with Strome, they can be a strong, aggressive trio on the forecheck.

Not only that, but he has shown he can produce at even strength and special teams. He can be a power-play catalyst, and with Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson and more, the man advantage could see a major improvement.

He also has incentive to perform; Strome becomes an RFA at the end of the season. And if he ends up being the right fit, he can get a qualifying offer. And if not, the team can move on. So, expect that to play a role as well.

Overall, expect big things from No. 17 as he looks to make his statement in D.C., which may be exactly the right spot for him to break out.

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