ARLINGTON, V.A. — For head coach Peter Laviolette, one of the main points of Washington Capitals training camp is to make noise and win your role. And with the second-line center role up for grabs, there’s one player that’s making the strongest case thus far.
It’s no other than Dylan Strome.
Laviolette has been impressed with the 25-year-old, who joins Washington on a one-year deal as he looks to reignite the spark that made him a third-overall pick in 2015. So far, Strome has been making quite an impact through camp. He’s moving his feet, making smart decisions with the puck and showing versatility and chemistry with his teammates. He has also looked solid while getting a look on the top power-play unit.
However, what truly set Strome apart was his performance in his Capitals debut in Wednesday’s 3-1 preseason win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He was in control of the game and ran the offense, scoring two goals and also working well in tandem with former Erie Otters teammate Connor Brown. Not only that, but he showcased strong two-way play and also won seven of 15 draws (47 percent).
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So for Washington, it was no surprise when he slid in on the second line at practice, locked into that 2C role between Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie.
“That’s what we’re looking at,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re evaluating everything, and he’s looked really good. I thought he was good on the power play [against Philly], he looked good on the half wall. He looked good in the middle of the ice. There was a lot of positives to his game.”
Connor Brown scored the first goal. Dylan Strome scored the second goal. Connor Brown and Dylan Strome just linked up on a 2-on-0 for the third goal.
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) September 29, 2022
The Capitals are only a week into camp, and there are still ways to go and roles to be won. Connor McMichael and Lars Eller are by no means out of the race yet for that second-line pivot role, and they still have time to show what they can do there with the season not kicking off until Oct. 12.
Still, Strome has made himself the clear frontrunner.
“I’m not saying that it’s locked in,” Laviolette confirmed. “But that’s what training camp is for, is to put people in positions and see how they do. I think he wants to play center. If you want to play center, you should make some noise with your game. And I thought he did.”
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For Strome, who is coming off a strong year in Chicago that saw him average a career-high 17:26 minutes per game and score 22 goals and 48 points in 69 games, he is willing to play anywhere. That includes being a winger instead of a pivot. However, he started his career as a center, and does want to be a staple on the top-6 in D.C. That has been his goal since stepping foot in MedStar Capitals Iceplex, and he is carrying that over.
“It’s just what you want as a player. I think it’s how you want to relied upon to create offense and win hockey games,” Strome said. “think when you’re on a team that demands winning and demands a lot of the guys to put up the points and put up goals and create chances and help your team win, I think it’s always a positive. That’s what you want to be as a hockey player.
“I think there’s always something to prove. You know, when a team kind of walks away from you giving you up for nothing, you obviously have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder and want to prove that they made a mistake,” he added. “…I’m excited to be in Washington and it was an interesting process of that free agency but i’m happy it got done and obviously I think there’s still a lot of prove. So just working hard every day and trying to prove myself as a legitimate good NHL player.”