With the health of center Nicklas Backstrom in question, the Washington Capitals signed free agent Dylan Strome on Thursday to likely fill in on the second line.
Strome, 25, is coming off a career-high 22-goal season with the Chicago Blackhawks. His one-year deal with the Capitals is for $3.5 million, the team announced Thursday night.
Despite his young age, the Ontario, Canada, native has six years and 273 games of experience between Arizona and Chicago. Strome was drafted No. 3 overall in the 2015 draft and made his NHL debut in 2016. After two and a half underwhelming seasons with the Coyotes, Strome blossomed in Chicago, scoring 60 goals and tallying 94 assists in 225 games.
With center Evgeny Kuznetsov slotted on the first line next to Alex Ovechkin, Strome will likely replace Nicklas Backstrom on the second line, at least until Backstrom returns from his injury.
Backstrom, who dealt with hip discomfort throughout the season, recently underwent left hip resurfacing surgery, which the team said requires a “lengthy recovery process.” The 34-year-old said after the season that his hip “is not going to be 100%,” but that he hopes he can return next season. General manager Brian MacLellan said last week that Backstrom, who has a $9.2 million cap hit in 2022-23, is expected to come back “at some point this year.”
Strome is the latest acquisition made by the busy Capitals so far during free agency, which began Wednesday. The Capitals also signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson, traded for former Ottawa winger Connor Brown, re-signed forward Marcus Johansson and signed goaltenders Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren.
• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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