With a growing list of COVID absences in the organization, the Montreal Canadiens and Laval Rocket have turned to alumni to save the day. Devante Smith-Pelly, who played parts of two seasons for Montreal several years ago, has signed a professional tryout contract with Laval.
Smith-Pelly, 29, had a long, productive career in the NHL, spanning more than 400 games between the regular season and playoffs. He even won a Stanley Cup in 2018 with the Washington Capitals, scoring two playoff game-winning goals along the way. The bang-and-crash forward last played in the NHL during the 2018-19 season with Washington, before spending 2019-20 in the KHL and last year in the AHL with the Ontario Reign.
Like with some of the other former NHL players signing odd contracts around the world, one has to wonder whether this contract for Smith-Pelly could actually be a precursor for bigger things. The Olympics are coming in a few months and without NHL participation, Canada will be looking for players to represent the country in Beijing that are currently not contracted to an NHL club. A PTO or an AHL deal should allow Smith-Pelly to participate if he finds himself on Hockey Canada’s radar.
If that ever did occur, it would be a redemption story for the Scarborough native. In 2011, Smith-Pelly had made the Anaheim Ducks out of camp but was loaned to the Canadian World Junior team when the tournament arrived. He was supposed to play a huge role for the club and was named an alternate captain ahead of the event. Unfortunately, while blocking a shot during a game that Canada won easily–the kind of heart-and-soul play that Smith-Pelly would become known for–he suffered a broken foot and would not play again the rest of the tournament. Since then, he hasn’t had another chance to suit up internationally.