A few days ago, Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz hinted that bottom-six winger Devante Smith-Pelly might be nearing a promotion to a better line. Well, NBC Sports’ Tarik El-Bashir writes that tonight will be that promotion as the 25-year-old has been moved onto the team’s top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov in their game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Smith-Pelly, who came to Washington this offseason, has had a very inconsistent career, starting when he was a highly-touted prospect and was drafted in the second round in 2010 by the Anaheim Ducks. Despite his junior success and his success at the AHL level, the winger had trouble figuring things out at the NHL level and quickly found himself bouncing around different teams. He signed a one-year, $650K deal with Washington this offseason after a one-year stint in New Jersey a year ago in which he tallied just nine points in 53 games.
Now, with the Capitals, he has started to show some of his skills and has earned the trust of Trotz. While he’s yet to score a goal, the belief is that his talents might be a perfect fit alongside Ovechkin and Kuznetsov. Smith-Pelly will replace Jakub Vrana, who moves to the team’s second line next to T.J. Oshie and Niklas Backstrom, who is returning after missing a game due to illness.
“He deserves it. He’s put in the work. His game is such that he needs to move up in the lineup,” Trotz said on Smith-Pelly’s promotion.