Strome making ‘noise’ at Caps’ camp, getting look in top six

Capitals center Dylan Strome celebrates scoring a goal in a preseason game

ARLINGTON, Va. — On the heels of a two-goal performance in Wednesday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Dylan Strome took the ice for training camp Thursday as the Capitals’ second-line center. The 25-year-old signed with Washington this offseason and has made a strong impression on head coach Peter Laviolette over the first two weeks of camp.

“That’s where we’re looking at,” Laviolette said Thursday. “We’re evaluating everything and he’s looked really good. I thought he was good on the power play last night, he looked good on the half wall, he looked good in the middle of the ice. There was a lot of positives to his game last night and [fellow offseason addition Connor] Brown’s game.

“Not saying that it’s locked in but that’s what training camp is for is to put people in positions and see how they do and I thought that he — I think he wants to play center. So if you want to play center you should make some noise with your game and I thought he did.”

When the week began, veteran Lars Eller was on the Capitals’ second line with Conor Sheary and T.J. Oshie on the wings. Laviolette cautioned not to read too much into line combinations as the team is mixing things up each day to get different looks, but Strome was out there Thursday alongside Oshie and Anthony Mantha.

Strome scored a career-high 22 goals with 26 assists in 69 games for the Blackhawks last season but hit free agency after the rebuilding Chicago declined to make him a qualifying offer. The Capitals signed him to a one-year, $3.5 million deal and he immediately entered the mix of players competing for the minutes of the injured Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson.


An asset on the power play as well, Strome told reporters in Philadelphia on Wednesday that he prefers to stick at center rather than moving out to the wing.

“I’m definitely more comfortable in the middle,” Strome said. “That’s been my position pretty much my whole life. I feel comfortable out there, feel like I can make plays and support my line mates, touch the puck a bit more. So, it’s the first game, but definitely feel more comfortable at center and can make some more plays. But whatever happens, happens.”

Though he’s played six NHL seasons for the Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes, Strome has never finished the year on a team that placed higher than sixth in the division standings. The Capitals, who have made the playoffs in eight straight seasons, present him with his first real chance to play in meaningful games down the stretch.

Strome is entering a linchpin season of his career that will play a significant role in determining what his next contract looks like. As if that wasn’t enough motivation already, he has the chance to contribute to a team with serious Stanley Cup aspirations.

“You get him into that environment where there’s a lot of guys who have a history of winning, finding success, looking at ultimate success,” Laviolette said. “It’s easy, I think, for a guy to come in and want to be a part of that and push himself to get there.”