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Dylan Strome: Stirring the Drink

Dec 20, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals center Dylan Strome (17) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal on New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) in overtime at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

One of GM Brian MacLellan’s better – and perhaps slightly underrated – moves in recent years was the signing of center Dylan Strome, who was inexplicably bought out by Chicago back in the summer of 2022. Since arriving in DC, Strome has put up big numbers, setting new career highs across the board. He’s poised to demolish some of those this season, and currently leads the team in goals (15) while trailing only Alex Ovechkin in points (27).

It’s not just the goal and point totals that makes him such a valuable asset to this Caps team, particularly this season (although given the team’s overall offensive woes thus far, it’s not invaluable). Strome has become a player who not only is relied upon to play different roles but also makes those around him better when taking on those roles.

As JP noted back on Monday, the young center has turned the team’s woeful top line into one of the league’s best trios – simply by sliding into that center spot instead of Evgeny Kuznetsov:

His impact isn’t limited to that top-line spot, though. With the recent line shuffling, Coach Carbery landed on a trio that featured Strome centering Max Pacioretty and T.J. Oshie – and the move yielded almost instant results (and yes, as always, take that with the grain of salt known as “extremely small sample size”):

(via Money Puck)

Take a look at how almost all of the team’s forwards see an improvement in their five-on-five numbers with Strome, compared to without:

(Data via Natural Stat Trick)

Again, small sample size warnings abound here; Strome has spent the majority of his time this season with just a few guys, and the rest have been rotated in and out for a game or two, or even within a game. But just about all of them are seeing a boost of some kind, a significant one in many cases, and pretty much wherever Carbery slots him in, he’s able to make things happen.

With Nicklas Backstrom out indefinitely (we will not be using the R word just yet, thank you very much) and Evgeny Kuznetsov proving to be somewhat more effective at wing these days than center, relatively speaking, Strome has been a life-saver, giving the Caps a legit top-six center as they attempt to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

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