ARLINGTON, V.A. — The Washington Capitals may have found their second-line center in Dylan Strome
The Capitals have signed the former Chicago Blackhawks center to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, general manager Brian MacLellan announced Thursday.
Strome, the third-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, is coming off a strong year with the Chicago Blackhawks that saw him dish 22 goals and 26 assists in 69 games. He had a rough go-of-it to begin his NHL career while with the Arizona Coyotes, but seemed to find his game with the Hawks.
Back in 2018-19, the 25-year-old had a 51-point season, followed by a 38-point campaign in 58 games in the COVID-19 shortened 2019-20 campaign, which would put him on pace for 53 points in a full 82-game season. He had a down year and inconsistency in 2020-21, but bounced back this season with a new career-high in goals.
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Strome was a restricted free agent but hit the market after he didn’t receive a qualifying offer.
The 6-3, 200-pound center still has a lot to bring to the table. He has good playmaking ability, a high hockey IQ and a strong shot. He has work to do when it comes to his skating and needs to work on his two-way play while finding consistency.
Washington needs a top-6 center and more firepower up front with Nicklas Backstrom out long-term after hip resurfacing surgery. Tom Wilson will also be out until at least December as he recovers from ACL surgery, and Carl Hagelin’s future remains up in the air. Strome can definitely try and fight for a top-6 spot.
One question remains: where does this leave Lars Eller? The Capitals have the Dane for one more season, but want Connor McMichael to take on a bigger role this year down the middle. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nic Dowd also have their full-time roles on the first and fourth lines, and now, Strome appears to be slotting in. However, Strome can also play wing.