Burning Questions: After new extension, how can Dylan Strome continue to improve? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Capitals’ training camp is quickly approaching, and the 2023-24 regular season won’t be far behind. To get you all caught up after a busy offseason, Monumental Sports Network’s Ethan Cadeaux and Matt Weyrich are examining the 10 biggest burning questions surrounding the team heading into the new campaign.
The emergence of Dylan Strome as a top-six center was one of the best storylines surrounding the Washington Capitals in 2022-23.
Strome originally signed a one-year deal with the Capitals in free agency after being non-tendered by the Chicago Blackhawks. In 81 games with Washington last year, Strome set career-highs in goals (23), assists (42) and points (65).
Strome’s strong play earned him a five-year extension with the Capitals this past February, a deal that kicks in this fall. He played some of his best hockey after signing the extension, as he tallied 31 points in the 29 games post-signing, including a four-game goal streak at the end of the season.
“I think sometimes when you don’t have that burden of ‘what contract is coming next’ or things like that, it makes it a little bit easier to just go play hockey and not worry about other things that you can’t control,” Strome said on April 9. “I think once that happened, you kind of just settle into your comfort zone and know you’re going to be here for a while. I feel like I’m getting a good opportunity to play and try to produce.”
With Strome now locked up long-term in Washington, where might the next jump in his game occur?
One area Strome could see improvement is his goal-scoring success on the power play. The 26-year-old spent a career-high 243 minutes on the ice in power play situations last season, according to Natural Stat Trick, yet scored just three times on the man advantage.
It’s worth noting Strome did still contribute on the power play, as he registered 18 assists (12 primary assists) when on the ice in power play situations. Still, Strome’s 11.11% shooting on the power play was the second-lowest mark of his career.
With new head coach Spencer Carbery — who orchestrated arguably the NHL’s best power play in Toronto over the past two seasons — at the helm, Strome has a good chance to bounce back as a true goal-scoring threat on the power play.
Another area Strome could immediately improve in is his faceoff win percentage. In 2021-22, Strome won 52.3% of faceoffs, which was a top-50 mark in the NHL. Last year, that percentage dipped to 48.8%. While still a respectable number, if Strome could return to his 2021-22 form on faceoffs, that could go a long way.
Strome’s skating ability has been an area he’s had room for improvement, dating back to his junior hockey days. He also has room for growth on the defensive end as well. The Capitals want to play faster and with more pace this season under Carbery, which will force Strome to adapt his game.
Overall, Capitals fans should continue to expect Strome to build on his strong 2022-23 season. A fixture in Washington’s top-six moving forward, turning in multiple 20-goal, 55-point seasons over the course of his extension is more than attainable.