A few days had passed after the July 5 start to free agency and the Capitals noticed Florida Panthers defenseman Tyson Strachan was still available.

Capitals coach Adam Oates remembered coaching against Strachan in the 2012 playoffs when Oates was with the Devils and Strachan was with Florida.

“I had watched him a little bit he’s a big man” Oates said. “My thoughts were we should really investigate him”

Oates called Strachan and said he couldn’t promise him anything but that the Caps would give him “a real honest look.”

On July 8 the Caps signed Strachan to a one-year two-way contract [$550000 NHL $225000 AHL] and today the 6-foot-3 210-pounder from Melfort Saskatchewan has emerged as perhaps the leading candidate to begin the season as the club’s seventh defenseman.

Strachan 28 is expected to be paired with Michal Cajkovsky tonight when the Caps face the Flyers at Verizon Center [7 p.m. CSN].

Drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fifth round of the 2003 NHL draft Strachan spent four years at OhioState before beginning a pro career split between the AHL [Peoria Rivermen and San Antonio Rampage] and NHL [St. Luis Blues Florida Panthers]. He played a career-high 38 games with the Panthers last season.