Dylan Strome Did Not Need Kane and DeBrincat To Contribute With The Capitals

Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

As we once again revisit things we wrote in the past this is one of the topics that I was keeping an eye on all season. Way back before the season started I asked the question, Could Dylan Strome produce in Washington without Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat?

The question, at least in my opinion, was a fair one. When you looked at the numbers it showed Strome had a much easier time putting up points and contributing when he played with those two great players. Not to disrespect anyone, but it should be a lot easier to put up goals and points with you play with guys like that. A future hall of famer, potentially the best American hockey player ever in Kane, and a young guy who had already proved himself as a very good goal scorer in the NHL in DeBrincat.

The argument was basically that Strome will not be playing with players of that caliber on a regular basis in Washington. There were and are good players on the Caps for sure, but only one guy is on Kane and DeBincat’s level, at least consistently, and that guy is obviously Alex Ovechkin.

I, and I am not sure how many people thought that Strome would get a lot of time with the greatest goal scorer ever. Maybe some power play time, since Ovechkin never seems to come off the ice on the man advantage, but the 5v5 time would be very limited.

I think that is a fair argument. The Capitals had and still have Evgeny Kuznetsov. Nicklas Backstrom was out to start the season, and for all we knew back then could have possibly missed the entire season. Kuznetsov was the 1C, no questions asked. Sure, you might get weird line combo’s from time to time. But Kuznetsov was the best player on paper before the season, and it wasn’t close. If you told me Kuznetsov would lose his 1C spot for most of the season before the season started I would be very curious to see what happened.

As we now know it was Strome who lined up as 1C on most nights. The argument of, “he won’t be playing with players like Kane and DeBrincat in Washington” was obviously wrong.

While 5v5 Strome had 520 minutes played with Ovechkin. Without Ovechkin he played 516 minutes. Close, but again, if you had told me before the season that Strome would play with Ovechkin more than he would play without him I would have been pretty surprised. Especially if you told me that Backstrom would return in January.

Before the season the center depth looked like Kuznetsov, Strome, Eller and Dowd. Then you add Backstrom to that? Obviously you make a trade and Eller was the obvious name to bring up there. I would have still thought the depth would have been Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Strome, Dowd. But on most nights I think the depth was mostly Strome, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Dowd. Great for Strome, not good for another guy on that list.

Playing at 1C, he set a new career high for ice time. His previous high was his last season in Chicago where he was on the ice for over 977 minutes. This season he was on the ice for 1,036 minutes while 5v5. And, as we saw earlier, a lot of those minutes came when he was playing with Ovechkin, giving him a great opportunity.

It was definitely an opportunity he seized. Strome set a new career high in goals with 23, his previous high was 22 set  in 2021-22. He also easily surpassed his previous high in points, that was 57 in 18-19 which he set in both Arizona and Chicago, 51 of those points coming with the Blackhawks in 58 games. His first season in Washington he was able to put up 65 points.

Just to point out Strome’s fancy stats, here they are.

This season he had a Corsi% of 50.38. That was the second highest of his career and only the second time in his career that he was over 50%. He had a scoring chance for % of 51.01%, again the second highest and only second time over 50%. His high danger attempts percentage was 49.78. He has only one season above 50% in that stat, that was way back in 17-18, his second season in the NHL where he only played in 21 games. His expected goals for percentage was also very good at 52.51%, again the second highest of his career, the best being 53.97 in just 20 games in 18-19 with the Coyotes.

Strome looked very good this season with the Capitals. There is probably a healthy debate out there that he could be the best free agent signing of last off-season. The Caps got a somewhat cheaper player who put up a very good season. Of course next season he is not as cheap, his cap hit goes from $3.5 million this season to $5 million next and beyond.

Can he do it again? Well, that is what separates good players from average players. It’s fine to do it once, good players do it over and over. If he can be a consistent 20+ goal scorer and 60+ point producer I think the Capitals should be very happy. Even happier if he can improve to a near thirty goal scorer with 70+ points.

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At the end of the day Strome proved he is a good player and a very good pick up for this Capitals team. And no, he does not need Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat to contribute to an NHL team.