For Devante Smith-Pelly, the Cup hangover had a cost.
|10.9||time on ice per game|
|45.8||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|46.1||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|42.1||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 season. A short description of each chart:
Last summer, I said this of DSP:
Smith-Pelly is replacement-level player who is irreplaceable. He’s a marginal player who delivered the margin of victory for a championship.
Smith-Pelly’s playoff performance was the stuff of legend. Seven goals and one shimmy dance later, he was in high demand as a free agent. But the turned down more money and better term to stay with his team.
That’s probably the moment everything went wrong. Through a network of innuendo, Smith-Pelly reportedly showed up to camp out of shape, though he personally denied that accusation. Once the season began, Smith-Pelly’s play time dropped by 90 seconds per game. His penalty-kill work, in particular was the worst on the team. Here are opponent rates (per hour) for common penalty-killing forwards:
Never the quickest skater, Smith-Pelly seemed to have trouble zoning opponents out of high-danger areas when down a man, as this HockeyViz graph illustrates:
So, in February, the Caps decided to put Smith-Pelly on waivers (reversing an earlier decision to do the same for Dmitrij Jaskin). Smith-Pelly’s decision to stay loyal to his team instead of making more money elsewhere proved to have been maybe a bit unwise — as did whatever his off-season training regimen was.
Smith-Pelly did great in Hershey, while Washington’s bottom line continued to languish. I was glad to see DSP return for the playoffs, but he couldn’t quite recreate the magic, going oh-fer in three games before elimination.
Smith-Pelly will soon turn 27 years old. An unrestricted free agent, he’s now a full year out from that mythical championship run. He’s got a spotty season in the rear view, and his earning ceiling is certainly lower now than it was in the summer of 2018.
But if you don’t see Devante Smith-Pelly as a genuine person of character and a deserving NHLer capable of great things, then you don’t know DSP.
What’s next for DSP? What do you think are Brian MacLellan’s conditions, and can DSP meet them?
Read more: Japers Rink
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.