Among the three restricted free agents on the NHL roster that the New Jersey Devils did not qualify, the decision to not qualify Devante Smith-Pelly was the most curious. Given that he only made $800,000 last season, the guaranteed raise of $80,000 should not have put the team off. No matter. Devante Smith-Pelly will remain with the Devils and he got a pretty decent raise out of it. The Devils inked DSP for a two year contract worth $2.6 million, or an average (read: cap hit) of $1.3 million per year. The team officially confirmed this information on their website.
It did not take long for the Devils fans to like Smith-Pelly. The Devils acquired him in exchange for Stefan Matteau, who has done pretty much not much at all in the NHL. Smith-Pelly immediately caught fire with the Devils with seven goals in his first nine games with the team. Unfortunately, Smith-Pelly cooled off as he would only score one goal in the next nine games with the team. Still, it was apparent that the 24-year old could be of use whether it was driving to the net, trying to put home pucks in front, and playing decent minutes (15:34 ATOI, an average of 2:31 of power play time per night). From a more advanced stats standpoint, Corsica lists DSP of having a CF/60 of 41.53 and a CA/60 of 50.15 for a CF% of 45.19% in 5-on-5 play. In terms of just shots, that’s a SF/60 of 24.81 and a SA/60 of 30.68. That’s, well, not good. Smith-Pelly did join the team when their season was all but confirmed to be done, so it is possible that it may not be so bad with a fresh 2016-17 season to start. That said, DSP appears to be best suited for a bottom-six winger role who plays quite a bit on the power play. Anyone expecting a play driver may be disappointed. That’s not exactly what the Devils need, but Smith-Pelly could help himself and the team if he’s better from that standpoint.
The good news is that I think Shero paid him accordingly. Alex predicted he would get a short contract in the range of $1 to $1.5 million. It’s very much a “show me” deal for the 24-year old to prove he can be a more effective winger. With the opportunity of more games, DSP will get to do that. If he can, then great. If not and it looks like his hot run last season will be the apex of his time in New Jersey, then the contract is favorable enough to be moved. We’ll see if he can do it. I have more hope that he will as opposed to, say, Jon Merrill.
That’s my quick opinion on the team re-signing Smith-Pelly. Now I want to know what you think. Do you like the new contract for DSP? What do you think he’ll be able to contribute to the team next season? Is there something I’ve overlooked that could change one’s opinion on him one way or another? Please leave your thoughts about Devante Smith-Pelly and his new contract in the comments. Thank you for reading.