Why Capitals Should Sign Pending UFA Dylan Strome

Photo: NHL.com

With unrestricted free agency set to open on Wednesday at noon, the Washington Capitals could look to upgrade in a few areas after their fourth straight first-round exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Center Nicklas Backstrom is expected to be out indefinitely after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery, so the team could look to add some depth down the middle.

GM Brian MacLellan told the media last week that he did not see Capitals buying a high-dollar center (Strome wouldn’t qualify), though he could be posturing. If he is being serious, here is a less expensive option.

The Chicago Blackhawks will reportedly not qualify pending restricted free agent Dylan Strome, which will take him to unrestricted free agency. Here is why the Capitals should take a look at him:


The Capitals are in need of younger players after they were tied for the oldest team in the NHL last season with an average age of 29.8. Some youth could provide the veteran core with some juice to get better results and you can never have enough depth with risk of injuries, which comes with having an older roster. Strome would help them take a step in the right direction as he is only 25.

Productive Past Four Seasons

Strome set a career-high in goals (22) and came three points shy of his career-high (48) in 69 games last season. He hit the 12-goal and 38-point mark in just 58 games in 2019-20 and 34-assist and 51-point plateau in 58 during his first full NHL season the year prior.

In three of the past four seasons, Strome has earned points-per-game averages of .73, .66, and .7 (this past one). During the pandemic campaign, his point-per-game rate dipped to .43 but that appeared to be an anomaly after a bounce back season and with the circumstances of that campaign.

High Upside

Strome was the third overall pick in 2015, which featured a deep draft class. He has showed that he could produce over his NHL career, especially this past season, and is in his prime.

With the potential of playing with Anthony Mantha, Conor Sheary, and/or T.J. Oshie down his wing, Strome would have the tools necessary to produce at a high level.

He earned a 48.28% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 48.87% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 48% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage last season but was on a team that finished 27th in the NHL. Strome averaged 2:42 on the power play (fifth among Blackhawks forwards).

Cheap Cost

Despite a productive season, the fact that the Blackhawks, who just traded star right-wing Alex DeBrincat and 21-year-old center Kirby Dach, did not have qualify him will deflate Strome’s value.

The Capitals could get Strome between $2.5-3 million (maybe even less) which is a very reasonable cost for a young center that has averaged between .65-.75 points-per-game consistently. Though, EvolvingHockey projects his next contract to feature around a $4.6 million cap hit.

Would Provide Flexibility

Strome has played second-line center for much of his tenure in Chicago and could add some fire power to the Capitals’ second power-play unit after setting career-highs with five goals and 16 points, respectively, on the man advantage (both of which would have ranked fourth on the Capitals) in 2021-22.

While the Capitals’ power-play improved down the stretch last season, it still finished 23rd in the NHL with a 18.8% efficiency. With Backstrom out indefinitely and right-wing Tom Wilson out for at least the first two months of the season, the team could use all the help they could get on the man advantage.

If Strome were to be brought in, some pressure would be taken off of Connor McMichael (which could help his development) and Lars Eller, who turned 33 in May.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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6 Responses to Why Capitals Should Sign Pending UFA Dylan Strome

  1. Anonymous says:

    What is the minimum Required Qualifying amount? Should they trade for him to avoid free agency?

    • redLitYogi says:

      isn’t he a free agent now? I like this play. We could sign him for two years at a reasonable cost with no team control after the two years. That way, if he plays well, he can go on the market again and that’s good for him. In the meantime, Miro, Lapierre, and McMichael might all be ready for larger roles. In the perverse world of NHL free agency, the only guys who get the 6 or 7 year deals are all over 30 these days.

  2. Lance says:

    I’m not familiar with him but there’s a lot to like about him from his stats. He had a better than 50% win percentage on faceoffs this year if I remember right. Could be a good opportunity for him, too, to get his career back on track.

  3. DWGie26 says:

    The reason they didn’t qualify him is because his Qualifying over would be at least 3.6M. so by not qualifying him, they could potentially sign him for less (something Caps and other teams have done). but given the chaos and long rebuild, I’d say Strome would welcome a change and someone we should definitely make a pitch to.

    What i don’t know is, if he can play wing. We need that type of a player because either Backstrom comes back and we need him and McMichael as centers moving Strome to wing. We also have Protas and Lapierre coming up as well but those guys can play wing. Let’s go get this guy pllleeeeassse.

  4. steven says:

    I like this idea and hopefully the Gm will sign him to a 4-5 year deal for $2.5 to $3.5 a year. Then dangle Eller and see what offers you get and let McMichael and Lapierre handle the 3rd line next sason and when not playig C they could always play wing..

  5. Anonymous says:

    As is stands now, the Capitals do not have a right shot center to take offensive zone faceoffs. TJ Oshie wins just over 42% of his faceoffs when forced to the dot to take draws. I’d bring in Strome and Giroux for 1-2 years each and trade Lars Eller.

    Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Giroux
    Mantha – Strome – Oshie
    Sheary – McMichael – Snively
    Fjallby – Dowd – Hathaway

    Wilson will come back and re-join the Top-6 and Protas/Leason can be the extra forwards.

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