At the eleventh hour of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, the New Jersey Devils struck a deal with the Montreal Canadiens.
While this deal is certainly an eyebrow raiser, it’s captivated the entire New Jersey Devils fan base. Some fans were left wondering why the Devils were so quick to give up on 22-year old prospect Stefan Matteau while others are wondering whether or not Smith-Pelly is actually part of Ray Shero’s long-term plan to rebuild the New Jersey Devils.
It’s unclear whether or not Devante Smith-Pelly will dress for tonight’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, but for now, let’s take a look at the newest member of the New Jersey Devils:
“The (trade of) Matteau for Smith-Pelly was more of a hockey trade,” Shero said in a conference call following the NHL Trade Deadline. “We were looking to fill the right side after trading [Stempniak], and Smith-Pelly just made sense. There’s a hole on the right side, so we’ll see what he can do.”
Prior to being traded to the New Jersey Devils, the 23-year old Smith-Pelly recorded 12 points (6 Goals, 6 Assists) and -2 plus/minus rating in 46 games played with the Montreal Canadiens. While spending a majority of his time on the Canadiens fourth line alongside Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn, Smith-Pelly averaged just 11:00 minutes of ice-time per game, which is the lowest mark of his career as an every-day player.
The Canadiens acquired Smith-Pelly in exchange for Jiří Sekáč from the Anaheim Ducks last February after he amassed 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in 54 games played in Southern California during the first full-season of his career.
Anaheim originally drafted Smith-Pelly 42nd-overall in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft out of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors hockey club of the OHL. During his three and a half-year stint in Anaheim, he recorded 40 points (14 Goals, 26 assists) with a -5 rating and 30 penalty minutes while spending some time alongside New Jersey Devils right-winger Kyle Palmieri.
Statistically speaking, over the course of the past two-seasons Smith-Pelly has recorded 1.26 points/per 60 minutes with a .907 Fenwick/per 60 and a 10.91 corsi/per 60.
While he is known for his hard work and forechecking abilities, his analytics would rank him the ninth best point-getter in New Jersey over the past two seasons and the fifth best in terms of unblocked on-ice shot attempts.
However, as his HERO (Horizontal Evaluative Rankings Optic) chart displays, Smith-Pelly is a bottom six-forward at best.
At the end of the day, Smith-Pelly hasn’t really gotten an extended look from any club in the NHL, and if he can impress the Devils between now and the end of the season he might very well work his way into the Devils future plans.
Smith-Pelly can become a restricted free agent on July 1st, but at just 23-year old the Devils might be inclined to keep around, especially when you consider that nearly the entire bottom-six of the Devils current roster is made up of aging veterans who will become unrestricted free agents on July 1st.