Strome, 25, comes from a Chicago team that opted to rebuild with younger players and new faces; Brown, 28, is ready to play with a contender once again.
“When a team kind of walks away from you, giving you up for nothing, you obviously have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder and want to prove that they made a mistake,” Strome said Friday. “ … I’m excited to be in Washington and it was an interesting process of that free agency but I’m happy it got done.”
Regarding his role in Washington, Brown said: “I’ve been around long enough that everyone understands what I am and I understand what I am as a player. For me, it is just about helping the team win. Do whatever I can to help the team win and be as productive as possible.”
Both Strome and Brown are expected to have an immediate impact this season, filling in holes in Washington’s lineup after injuries to Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom. The earliest Wilson, who is recovering from ACL surgery, is expected to be back is December. There is no timeline for Backstrom, who is recovering from hip surgery.
During the first line rushes of Capitals’ training camp Friday, Brown took rushes as the right winger on the top line, alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Wilson skated on a line with Ovechkin for the last few years as he started to solidify himself as an offensive weapon.
There is typically a learning curve when playing on a line with Ovechkin — which multiple players have noted over the years — but Brown said the initial transition has gone smoothly. Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said Brown will be tried out in different spots in the lineup and Friday’s line rushes were “just a starting point.”
“His speed and his tenacity and the way he hounds the puck out there, he’s got a good skill level,” Laviolette said of Brown. “He brings a lot to the table. So it’s just the first practice and we’ll move the lines around a little bit as training camp goes on, but he’s a guy that I feel can offer some things in different positions.”
Brown, who had 10 goals and 29 assists for the Senators last year, said he’s still learning Washington’s system but is confident it will soon be second nature. Brown will also be a focal point on the Capitals’ penalty kill, where he excelled with the Senators. Washington is already without Wilson on the penalty kill, in addition to Carl Hagelin, who is out indefinitely as he addresses a lower-body injury and an eye injury.
Strome took rushes Friday as the team’s second-line left winger, alongside Connor McMichael and Anthony Mantha. Strome played wing and center in Chicago and Washington will try him at both positions during training camp.
“I feel comfortable in both spots,” Strome said. “And it was fun to be out there with those two guys (Mantha and McMichael). Played with Mantha a little bit at the World Championships and pretty dynamic player, so fun to play with him and then watching McMichael, he’s very skilled.”
Strome’s opening night position will also depend on the play of McMichael and Lars Eller, as Washington decides who will take over for Backstrom as the team’s second-line center. The candidates include Strome, McMichael and Eller.
The Capitals coaching staff prefers McMichael at center but is open to trying him back at wing, where he spent some time last season. If McMichael wins the second-line center job during training camp, there’s a chance that Friday’s initial line rushes will be the Capitals’ opening night lineup on Oct. 12.
“I think everybody’s open-minded here,” Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan said of who can replace Backstrom. “I think Lars [Eller] could step up, too. Strome could play there. McMichael could play there. I think the coaching staff, all the discussions we’ve had is we’re open. If somebody grabs it and takes it, we’re open to keeping it that way.”