Dylan Strome recently secured a 5-year contract with the Washington Capitals at a cap hit of five million dollars per year. That salary would place Strome at the 74th percentile of NHL salaries. Is Strome worth that amount? Answering this question involves taking a closer look at the Washington Capital forwards. The other centers on the club are Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nick Dowd. Backstrom would normally be the number one center but due to injuries played only 47 games in the 2020-21 season with just 6 goals, 25 assists and 31 points. This season he has managed just 4 goals, 8 assists and 12 points in 24 games. Just one goal came during even strength. After this season Backstrom has two more years at an annual cap hit of $9.2 million. Kuznetsov has two more seasons after the current at a cap hit of $7.8 million. In 66 games this season he has 11 goals, 39 assists and 50 points but just six even strength goals.
Clearly both Backstrom and Kuznetsov are significantly underperforming their contracts. The Capitals have tried various line combination this season. The forward line with the most even strength time on ice together has been Strome centering Ovechkin and Sheary; that can be considered Washington’s first line for the majority of the season. They have had 257 even strength minutes together. When they played head-to-head versus opponents’ top lines (93 minutes) their net goals per 60 minutes was -0.64 i.e., in a 60 minute even strength game versus opponent top lines Washington would lose by 0.64 goals equivalent to a score of 3.1-2.5. Playing versus non top opponent lines they had positive net goals of 1.10.
Looking just at Dylan Strome, his net goals even strength when playing against top opponent lines ranks just at the 7th percentile league wide. His evs point scoring is above average (73rd percentile) and goal scoring at 65th percentile. When Strome was with the Blackhawks I did an analysis of his even strength scoring versus playoff and non-playoff teams. In comparison to Debrincat and Kane the analysis showed that unlike the other two forwards, Strome had a big drop off in productivity versus playoff clubs, i.e., top rated teams:
In conclusion, it appears the Capitals were more or less forced to extend and increase Strome ‘s contract, but they appear to have a long-term problem if he has to be the number once center. His performance versus top lines both offensively and defensively are below average. He is more closely valued at his current cap hit of $.5 million then his new rate at $5.0 million.