Only days after trading Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators and Kirby Dach to the Montreal Canadiens, the Chicago Blackhawks have moved on from another young player. This time, it’s Dylan Strome, who inked a 1-year contract with the Washington Capitals.
The 25-year-old is a former third overall pick of the Arizona Coyotes, and just finished his fourth season as a member of the Blackhawks. While Strome took a little bit to get his feet wet in the NHL and really find his footing, he turned into a different player once the Coyotes traded him to Chicago.
Related: 2022 NHL Free Agent Tracker
His best season production-wise remains the 2018-19 season, where he tallied 51 points in 58 games, but he’s produced at roughly a 50-60 point pace each year since the trade minus the 2020-21 season. But even then, he bounced back nicely in 2021-22 with 48 points in 69 games. Throughout his career, he has had 170 points in 273 games.
The Mississauga, Ontario native has some very nice upside and it will be interesting to see how he fares playing for a team that’s trending in a different direction than the Blackhawks. Although he’s not the strongest skater, his offensive capabilities made him an attractive target for any team heading into free agency, with the ability to absorb top-nine as well as power play minutes.
Blackhawks’ Decision to Not Qualify Strome Was a Surprise
Objectively, the Blackhawks have been trending in a strange direction as a franchise. Former general manager Stan Bowman appeared to believe the Blackhawks could contend last season, trading two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and young defenseman Adam Boqvist to the Blue Jackets for Seth Jones.
Bowman has since stepped down as general manager, and now that it’s apparent that the Blackhawks are in a rebuilding phase, pieces are starting to be shipped out. But since Strome is 25, there was the option to tender him a contract. The Blackhawks opted not to do so, making him an unrestricted free agent, which was a little bit of a puzzling move for a team that could use a young talent like him. Nevertheless, Strome is now a member of the Capitals and will certainly be looking to make an impact for his new team in 2022-23.
Strome Will Help Fill Void Left By Backstrom
The Capitals are going to be without a familiar face this season, as longtime number-one centre Nicklas Backstrom underwent hip resurfacing surgery last month. They still have Evgeny Kuznetsov to help soften the blow, but they’ll likely need more than that, and Strome should help them in that regard. He can play both centre and wing, but with the absence of Backstrom, it seems likely that he will be their new second-line centre.
This will be the Capitals’ first roster since 2007-08 that won’t feature Backstrom, so there might be a little bit of a culture shock at the beginning of the season. But from a hockey standpoint, Strome will help fill the void left by him.