Stanley Cup champion Devante Smith-Pelly was released from his professional tryout by the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
DSP inked the tryout on September 4 along with Tobias Rieder (RW/LW), Zac Rinaldo (LW), and Alexandre Grenier (RW).
#Flames have released Devante Smith-Pelly from his PTO.
— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) September 28, 2019
The Flames later confirmed the release with a photo of an aggressively cropped photo of a player’s torso.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) September 28, 2019
During the preseason, Smith-Pelly had the second-worst shot-attempt percentage at five-on-five among all players on the Flames (29 percent).
He had no points in four games.
The release follows a difficult 2018-19 season after DSP was a major factor in the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run. The bottom-six forward scored seven big goals helping push the Capitals to their first championship.
DSP re-signed with the Capitals for $1 million but came into Training Camp the next fall out of shape.
“He had an extremely short off-season (after winning the Cup),” BioSteel founder Matt Nichol said to Sportsnet. “We’ve had 10 guys in 10 years win the Cup at our gym, which is cool, but it’s a struggle. Even if you have the best intentions, you come back home and you have all sorts of family and friends demanding your time.”
Things did not get better in the regular season. DSP scored four goals in 54 games and ultimately was put on waivers and optioned down to Hershey at the trade deadline. Smith-Pelly eventually was called back up during the postseason and played in three first-round games against the Carolina Hurricanes, showing the same fire and tenacity that he had in 2018.
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said on breakdown day in May that he’d be open to re-signing DSP if certain requirements were met.
“I think internally we had a couple issues and we’ve had to work through them,” MacLellan said. “I think we’ll talk to him going forward. I had an exit meeting with him. Just outlaid our expectations. We need to be assured that those requirements would be met before we brought him back.”
But two months later, DSP hit unrestricted free agency without a deal.
In late August, Smith-Pelly participated in BioSteel Camp in Toronto and looked back to form according to those who saw him train. “Last summer was a learning process,” Nichol said. “This summer he was very dialed in.”
Former teammates Tom Wilson and Brett Connolly sang DSP’s praises as well.
“He knows this is a big training camp and a big year,” Brett Connolly said. “He’s a confident person and believes in himself. He’s just being patient. There’s a team that’s going to get a really good player at a really good price.”
“I hope the best for him,” Wilson added.
Now DSP will have to hope to catch on with another NHL team, play in the AHL, or look overseas.
Regardless of where he ends up, there’s one thing for sure. The next time he appears in Washington, he will return to a hero’s welcome.
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