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Strome & Milano Extensions Hint At Capitals’ Plans For Future

The Washington Capitals extended Dylan Strome and Sonny Milano over the NHL All-Star Weekend, hinting at the team’s plans for the future.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — The Washington Capitals got down to business during the All-Star Weekend, signing forwards Dylan Strome and Sonny Milano to multi-year extensions. Both deals reward the two for their efforts and impacts on the top-6 during their first year in D.C., and they also offer insight into where the team is headed in the coming years.

Strome's extension is for five years and carries an average annual value of $5 million. The 25-year-old is hitting his prime and has found a home with the Capitals following stints with the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes, who drafted him third overall in 2015.

After signing a one-year deal this offseason, Strome hit the ground running and won the first-line center job. Through 52 games so far with Washington, Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points, good for third on the team in scoring. He is also on pace for a career-high 56 points, and even though he is a versatile player who can also play the wing, he has won a center role in D.C.

Looking at the team's plan for the future, Strome, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Nic Dowd are the four centers signed through the next two seasons. Lars Eller, the team's top face-off man and penalty killer, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and appears to be the odd center out given the situation.

There's also the question of where Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre fit into the mix, as both are excelling at the AHL level and are mainly playing center roles. McMichael went back down following his first full NHL season back in 2021-22, and Lapierre has nine games at the NHL level. While the next two seasons will be set at center, Strome is the only pivot under contract past 2025, as Backstrom, Kuznetsov and Dowd all become UFAs.

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With the team approaching an uncertain future that includes life without Backstrom, Kuznetsov and, in 2026, Alex Ovechkin, giving McMichael and Lapierre two more seasons to develop will be helpful for when the Capitals ultimately have to turn to their younger talent, and Strome is set to play a key role in leading that charge as he hits his peak.

The same can be said for Sonny Milano. The 26-year-old inked a three-year extension that carries an AAV of $1.9 million on Saturday. He started the season later than expected and worked his way up to the main roster following a stint in Hershey after remaining unsigned through the start of the regular season.

In what Milano called a "weird summer," the Long Island native didn't get too much interest, and the professional tryout he signed with the Calgary Flames for training camp didn't go according to plan as he was released from the PTO following a rough preseason showing. Milano ended up settling on the only one-way offer he got: a one-year, $750,000 "prove it" deal with Washington.

So far, he's done just that with eight goals and 14 assists through 40 games, and he has also been a perfect fit for Backstrom and has proven to be a top contributor at even strength, an area where the team has been looking for more secondary scoring. Among all skaters, he has the ninth-lowest cost per point at $34,090, and his game has also fit in well with Peter Laviolette's system. 

READ MORE ON WHN: How Last-Chance Deal With The Washington Capitals Turned Into The Best Move Of Sonny Milano's Career

Looking at Milano's role, he will also be a fundamental part of keeping the team going offensively in the future. There are several wingers hitting the market this summer, including Conor Sheary, Marcus Johansson, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Garnet Hathaway, and the Capitals also have to address a number of free-agent defensemen, as every blueliner except John Carlson is on an expiring contract.

Therefore, having Milano under contract provides some forward security and guarantees secondary scoring. Plus, with Anthony Mantha struggling and still looking for consistency, while also facing trade speculation, having Milano bring consistent speed and offense to the lineup is vital.

Overall, these two contracts will have Strome and Milano in D.C. until both turn 30 and 29 respectively, and they also indicate that the team is starting to prepare for the future and getting younger in an attempt to keep the Stanley Cup window open when the core eventually disbands. For $6.9 million combined, locking down two top-6 caliber players should be considered a win for general manager Brian MacLellan.

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