Late on Day Two of free agency, the Washington Capitals announced another major free agent signing. The team inked Dylan Stromeformerly of the Chicago Blackhawks, to a one-year, $3.5 million deal.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the news.
Sounds like Dylan Strome to WASH, 1x$3.5M. There was a lot of interest
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 14, 2022
In 69 nice games last season, the six-foot-three Strome scored 22 goals and tallied 48 points. The 22 goals were a career-high. Strome centered Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane for a majority of the season.
The 25-year-old Strome was not tendered a qualifying offer by the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks, which is why he was an unrestricted free agent.
Dylan Strome will reportedly not be tendered a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.
—JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 10, 2022
Playing second-line minutes in Chicago, Strome immediately becomes the favorite to replace Nicklas Backstrom in the short term after GM Brian MacLellan said he would turn to internal 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 coming back at some point. What we can do is give opportunities to our young guys. We’ve got some young guys—McMichael, we hope he gets to the next step; Lapierre, we’ll see where he’s at; Protas is coming in and we expect him to take the next jump — and kinda go from there. It’s not like we can sign a $9.5 million player. We’re anticipating Nick comes back at some point. Until that goes away, we plan on him coming back.”
The Capitals will now face a major quandary if Backstrom comes back during the season. The team is $5.6 million over the salary cap and would have to make some type of major trade to accommodate the Swede unless they hold him out until the postseason begins (similar to what the Lightning did during their championship year with Nikita Kucherov).
After signing Strome $3.5M per @FriedgeHNIC, #ALLCAPS are $5.6M Over Cap w/ full 23 players (15F/6D/2G) on Projected Roster.
Backstrom ($9.2M) to LTIR, could have $3.6M of space. However, if Backstrom returns during season, will need to clear that room.https://t.co/8VhsKIcn4f
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 14, 2022
The Strome signing combined with Marcus Johansson’s return also signals that the team’s center prospects may all end up in the AHL for a full season unless other moves are made. Third-line center Lars Eller is in the final year of his deal ($3.5M AAV) and struggled during parts of last season.
Strome will be a restricted free agent and arbitration eligible next summer, meaning the Capitals will hold his rights past this season.
Here’s the full release 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, recorded 48 points (22g, 26a) in 69 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2021-22. The 6’3”, 200-pound forward established single-season career highs in goals and games played and averaged a career-best 17:26 time on 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, Ontario native averaged 0.68 points per game in parts of four seasons with Chicago from 2018-19 to 2021-22, which ranked fifth on the team in that span.
In 273 career NHL games with Arizona and Chicago, Strome has scored 170 points (67g, 103a).
Internationally, Strome has represented Canada at the 2019 World Championship, where he earned a silver medal, and at the 2017 and 2016 World Junior Championships, earning a silver medal at the 2017 tournament.
Strome was teammates with recently acquired Capitals forward Connor Brown with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) during the 2013-14 season.
Headline photo: @thegoldenstromes/IG