In the space of one year, Devante Smith-Pelly went from a washout to a fan-favorite champion who will be a DC legend forever.
|12.3||time on ice per game|
|44.3||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|43.2||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2016-17 season. A short description of each chart:
I like a good summertime reclamation project. Last year, the Caps saw something they liked in Devante Smith-Pelly, who had just been released by the Devils, and they gave him a look. That look was apparently good enough to give Smith-Pelly a few chances on the top line, where he acquitted himself perhaps better than expected (he scored in his first game up there), but not good enough to justify a long stint with Ovechkin and company.
So Smith-Pelly fell to the fourth line, where his offensive skills were above average (he has the fifth highest individual shot attempt rate on the team) and his possession skills weren’t quite enough (he allowed the fourth highest rate of opponent scoring chances). Maybe as a result or maybe as a result of his circumstances, Smith-Pelly’s line saw the Caps’ share of goals drop by 11 percent. His personal offense dried up entirely late in the season, and hopes for a breakout performance in the postseason were low.
Smith-Pelly had a legendary postseason, equaling his regular-season goal total in just 24 playoff games, which featured enough clutch plays (two game-winners) to help the Caps on their way to a Championship. (You’ll see a bunch of those highlights below.) Still, Smith-Pelly was actually outscored 11 to 9 while on-ice during the postseason.
Smith-Pelly was a restricted free agent entering the postseason, but the Caps declined to send him a qualifying offer, putting in doubt his future in DC. Despite some initial drama, and despite the rareness of reason in the wake of a championship, the Caps and Smith-Pelly’s camp have reached a reasonable one-year, $1 million deal. 2018-19 will give Smith-Pelly another chance to use his above-average offensive skills to transcend his role as a fourth liner.
How do you balance the clutch play and undeniable star potential of DSP with the less-flattering underlying pattern of his play? Can Smith-Pelly ever become something more than a fourth liner who scores a big goal every once-in-a-while?
Read more: Japers’ Rink
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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