In a fascinating turn of events, the Washington Capitals have placed Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers today. Multiple reports came out this morning expecting the team to place Dmitrij Jaskin instead, given his absence at practice and word from a team spokesman, but he is not on waivers. Instead Smith-Pelly, who was pulled from practice before it concluded, is available for the rest of the league.
This situation seems similar to one in late 2018 when the Toronto Maple Leafs announced they would be placing Connor Carrick on waivers, before eventually trading him instead. No word has come on Jaskin’s status so far, but he did not join the team for practice at any point. Head coach Todd Reiden admitted to reporters including Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post that the plan was to waive Jaskin, but the team changed their minds and that there are a lot of “moving parts” behind the scenes right now.
For Smith-Pelly, this isn’t an entirely surprising move. The 26-year old forward has failed to capture any of the magic that made him one of the Capitals’ playoff heroes last spring, and has just eight points in 54 games. While he’s still a physical presence and fan favorite, the Capitals need to clear some cap room if they are going to make any deadline additions and the remainder of Smith-Pelly’s $1MM salary could be entirely buried in the minor leagues.
That is of course if he clears, which certainly isn’t guaranteed. Teams looking to improve their fourth line could do worse than the second-round pick, especially given his history in the postseason. Smith-Pelly has 13 goals in 48 career postseason games, including seven last year with the Capitals en route to a Stanley Cup.