“I think 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 they made a mistake…”, were the words Capitals forward Dylan Strome spoke during his first press conference with the media on September 23.
Having not been tendered a qualifying offer by the Chicago Blackhawks, sending him to free agency, the Caps’ acquisition of Strome could prove to be the steal of the offseason should he make good on those words.
A former third overall pick of the Arizona Coyotes (2015), Strome recorded 22 Goals and 48 Points in 69 Games Played in 2021-22 with Chicago, who, as a result of a rebuilding process, opted not to give him a $3.6 million qualifying offer allowing him to hit the open market, where Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan scooped him up on a one-year, $3.5 million deal.
Through the Capitals’ training camp and preseason games in which he’s played Strome has shown the offensive potential that could make him a pivotal part of the Washington offense this season. He has seen time on the first power play unit and in his first preseason game in a Caps sweater, scored two goals (one of which came with the man-advantage) to carry the Capitals to a 3-1 victory.
That Erie Otters connection is STRONG pic.twitter.com/kWteMzy8fC
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 29, 2022
The offensive upside Strome brings this season is not the only reason I believe that MacLellan’s signing of the Mississauga, Ontario, native could be considered the steal of the summer. At the conclusion of this season, Strome, is still a Restricted Free Agent. At only 25-years old, he is young enough to be part of the next core of the team, who planned on giving their young prospects opportunities to step up in more roles this season before making offseason moves that delayed the youth movement for the time being.
And while the hypothetical price tag for a productive season will likely be more substantial than the $3.5 million deal he is currently playing on, locking up a potential core player given the team’s coming roster decisions next summer would be well worth any such investment.
Placing such expectations on Strome before the regular season starts, however the sample size he has given thus far into his first season in Washington and his past productivity makes me believe that he will be one of Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s most important forwards this season, and a signing by Brian MacLellan that could play a pivotal role going forward.
By Michael Fleetwood