The Capitals’ new acquisitions have seemingly endless prior ties to each other

The Washington Capitals did something amazing this summer during free agency. They acquired a bunch of guys who were already dudes to each other.

“It’s kind of funny,” Dylan Strome said during his introductory press conference with Capitals media. “It seems like everyone Washington has signed or traded with, I had played before.”

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan added, “Some of our players already know some of these guys. I think it should be pretty easy for us to get them into the lineup.

There is also a player who seems to be the Kevin Bacon of the group: Tom Wilson.


Connor Brown and Dylan Strome played on the same junior hockey team

The most notable connection is between Connor Brown and Dylan Strome who played for the Erie Otters in the 2013-14 season. Strome was a 16-year-old key prospect playing his first season in the OHL while Brown was a second-year captain playing his third and final season with the team. Superstar Connor McDavid and former Capital Andre Burakovsky were also members of the electrifying club.

“I remember playing with Stromer,” Connor Brown said. “He was only 16. Only a highly skilled player with good hands could score. I think he’s still becoming his own in the league. He’s a smart player. Usually the Smart players get better and better as they get older and start to understand how to be successful. I’m excited to play with him again. He’s a great boy.”

Brown scored 128 points (45g, 83a) in 68 games, leading the CHL in points and earning OHL Most Valuable Player honors, while Strome had 39 (10g, 29a) in 60 games as a rookie that year.

“He’s a really big contender,” Strome said of Brown. “He likes to win. I remember my first game as a junior. I didn’t know what to expect. I was very young, I was just finding my way. We lost our first game of the season in overtime and he came off the ice and was upset, frustrated that we lost. It was my first experience. I think he’s a great leader. He was captain of the team then. He’s a great hockey player. He was fun to watch that year. We had a really good first line that I got to watch a bit. They scored a lot of points and a lot of goals. Can’t wait to get back to his team. I talked to him a bit last week. It’s been a long time (nine years) since we’ve been on the same team, but we’re thrilled.

The two are also longtime Instagram friends who tweet in the same vein as Tom Wilson and Michael Latta. For example, Brown posted a photo of his Toronto Marlboros AAA team where his father was the head coach.

Ouch!


Connor Brown and Dylan Strome are longtime friends with… Tom Wilson!

Brown and Strome have four things in common with Capitals forward Tom Wilson. They grew up in Ontario, they’re good at hockey, they played in the OHL and they’re all about the same age (28, 28, 25). Naturally, they’ve connected over the years and followed each other on Instagram long before this year’s offseason.

“Tom Wilson reached out to me,” Dylan Strome said. “I worked with him for a few years. Obviously happy to be on his side of the ice this time instead of playing against him. I’m looking forward to it.

Strome attended BioSteel Camp with Wilson, an annual gathering named after the league’s new sports drink that gives players one last big boost before training camp.

“I know Tommy Wilson,” Connor Brown said during his press conference. “We grew up playing against each other all our lives in the Toronto area since we were very young. We have always been friendly rivals and have known each other for years.

The two frequently played against each other in the OHL as Wilson served as the Plymouth Whalers’ alternate captain in 2012-13 while Brown was in his first year as captain with the Otters. I checked and neither player has ever fought.

A quick look at Instagram reveals that Wilson has liked Brown’s Instagram posts since 2013.


Dylan Strome played with Darcy Kuemper in Arizona

The Washington Capitals dumped their two young goaltenders this offseason, Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, in favor of a more veteran crew. Darcy Kuemper, 32, recently led the Colorado Avalanche to the 2022 Stanley Cup.

Prior to his move to Denver, Keumper played four seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. One of his teammates there? Dylan Strom!

“Darcy Kuemper who I played with a bit in Arizona,” Strome said.

The two Canadians played parts of two seasons together (2017-18, 2018-19) in the desert. Strome played 41 games for Arizona over those two years while Kuemper made 65 appearances. Kuemper’s standout season in the NHL was the 2018-19 campaign where he made a career-high 55 starts, going 27-20-8 with a .925 save percentage.


Connor Brown played with Darcy Kuemper on Canada’s national team

Connor Brown and Darcy Kuemper became friends and teammates as members of Canada’s 2021 IIHF World Championship team, which played in Riga, Latvia.

“Darcy Kuemper, I played with him at the World Championships,” said Connor Brown. “I think he’s really a goalkeeper. I loved playing with him and I liked him as a guy.

Canada won the tournament. Kuemper, the team’s starter, was 5-2-1 in eight games, posting a 2.17 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. Brown had 16 points (2g, 14a) in 10 games.


Goalkeepers Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren have the same agent

Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren will be the Capitals’ new battery in net. They signed back-to-back during free agency, but they’re not best friends. Somewhat ironically though, they have the same agent: Ben Hankinson.

“I never really met [Lindgren] front,” Kuemper said. “I heard he was a great guy. Great in the locker room, everyone loves it. Super excited to get to know him and start our partnership there.

Lindgren spent part of last season with the St. Louis Blues after being a member of the Montreal Canadiens organization from 2015-2020.


Dylan Strome played with Henrik Borgstrom and Erik Gustafsson in Chicago

Dylan Strome was one of three Chicago Blackhawks players the Capitals signed as a free agent over the summer. The other two were striker Henrik Bogstrom and Erik Gustafsson. Borgstrom played 52 games with Chicago, scoring seven points, while Gustafsson was in his second stint with the team. The defender played with the team from 2015 to 2020 before returning last season.


Erik Gustafsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk played together in Chicago

Gustafsson and TVR were teammates at Windy City in the 2015-16 season. They played 23:22 minutes together at five-on-five together that year.


Was acquiring so many players who knew each other a master plan of Caps general manager Brian MacLellan or just an incredible coincidence? That familiarity should hopefully spawn some chemistry early in the season where the Capitals will scramble to find a new roster without injured front six Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson.

“I’m really, really excited about the additions that [the Capitals] done,” Connor Brown said. “I’m excited to be a part of it and I’m excited to see what I can contribute and what I can help the team looking to make the leap.”

Photoshop created via a photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

Posted In NHL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.