Capitals sign second-line center Dylan Strome to one-year, $3.5 million deal

Late on day two of free agency, the Washington Capitals announced another major free agent signing. The team inked Dylan Stromformerly of the Chicago Blackhawks, to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the news.

In 69 great games last season, the six-foot-three Strome scored 22 goals and had 48 points. The 22 goals were a career high. Strome centered Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane for the majority of the season.

Strome, 25, did not receive a qualifying offer from the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks, which is why he was an unrestricted free agent.

Playing second-line minutes in Chicago, Strome immediately becomes the favorite to replace Nicklas Backstrom in the short term after general manager Brian MacLellan said he would look to inside options such as Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre or Aliaksei Protas.

“The salary cap is the salary cap,” MacLellan said. “We have to plan for Nick’s return at some point. What we can do is give opportunities to our young people. We have young guys – McMichael, we hope he takes the next step; Lapierre, we’ll see where he is; Protas arrives and we expect him to take the next leap – and go a bit from there. It’s not like we can sign a $9.5 million player. We anticipate that Nick will return at some point. Until that goes away, we expect it to come back.

The Capitals will now face a major dilemma if Backstrom returns during the season. The team is $5.6 million over the salary cap and should make some type of major trade to accommodate the Swede unless they hold him off until the playoffs start (similar to what the Lightning did during their championship year with Nikita Kucherov).

The signing of Strome combined with the return of Marcus Johansson also signals that the team’s center prospects could all end up in the AHL for a full season unless other decisions are made. Third line center Lars Eller is in the final year of his contract ($3.5 million AAV) and struggled for parts of last season.

Strome will be a restricted free agent and eligible for arbitration next summer, which means the Capitals will retain their rights beyond this season.

Here is the full statement from the Capitals:

Capitals sign Dylan Strome

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have signed forward Dylan Strome to a one-year, $3.5 million contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

Strome, 25, had 48 points (22g, 26a) in 69 games for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2021-22. The 6’3”, 200-pound forward set career highs in single-season goals and games played and averaged 17:26 on the ice last season. Strome ranked third on the team in goals and fourth in assists and points.

Originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes with the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Strome recorded a career-high 57 points (20g, 37a) in 78 games with Arizona and Chicago in 2018 -19. The Mississauga, Ont., native averaged 0.68 points per game in four seasons with Chicago from 2018-19 to 2021-22, which ranked fifth on the team during that span.

In 273 career NHL games with Arizona and Chicago, Strome had 170 points (67g, 103a).

Internationally, Strome represented Canada at the 2019 World Championships, where he won a silver medal, and at the 2017 and 2016 World Junior Championships, winning a silver medal at the 2017 tournament.

Strome was teammate with recently acquired Capitals forward Connor Brown with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) during the 2013-14 season.

Main photo: @thegoldenstromes/IG

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