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Devante Smith-Pelly is hopeful he has found a home with the Capitals

Devante Smith-Pelly is hopeful he has found a home with the Capitals

“I didn't think I'd be here a year ago,” Devante Smith-Pelly told the media Wednesday. “That's for sure.”

In 2017, Devante Smith-Pelly was a member of the New Jersey Devils and thought that’s where he would play the 2017-18 season. Instead, Smith-Pelly was bought out of the final year of his contract, something that he was not prepared for as he only received word of the team’s decision on the same day they made the move.

New Jersey’s loss turned out to be Washington’s gain as the Caps signed Smith-Pelly for one year and he proceeded to score seven goals during the Capitals’ postseason run to the Stanley Cup.

“Obviously, at the start of the year, not knowing exactly where I would be to at the parade on Constitution, it's crazy," Smith-Pelly said. "I haven't really sat down and taken it all in, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I had an amazing time this year. Obviously, it's the best year of my life.”

Now as a restricted free agent, Smith-Pelly is hoping he has found a home in Washington.

Despite being only 26-years-old, Smith-Pelly has already had somewhat of a journeyman’s career. The Caps are the fifth team in which he has played for.

The issue for much of Smith-Pelly's career has been consistency.

The 2018 playoffs was not his first breakout performance. He scored five goals in just 12 playoff games for the Anaheim Ducks in 2014, but he failed to live up to that level of production again until this year’s postseason with Washington.

“I don't think I needed to prove anything,” Smith-Pelly said. “I knew what I could do, it's just me getting a chance to do it and that's it. I got a chance here and I guess it worked out.”

Expecting him to score seven goals every 24 games in the regular season is likely unrealistic, but the Caps don’t need him to do that. Smith-Pelly developed a role with the Caps being a bottom-six player, a role that he thrived in throughout the season.

“He's become a big part of the team,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “He brings good energy, he's a good teammate, he's well-liked. You could tell the teammates really migrate towards him, they like him and then the crowd also likes him. They're chanting 'DSP' all the time so it's been fun to watch how he's got everybody to embrace him and his personality.”

Given when Smith-Pelly was able to do in the postseason, it is no surprise that the Caps would be interested in keeping him around. But at what cost?

Smith-Pelly was a bargain for Washington last season with a cap hit of only $650,000. He will be due a raise, but with John Carlson expected to get a monster contract, how much will general manager Brian MacLellan be willing to spend on a bottom-six winger like Smith-Pelly?

Despite the phenomenal postseason, Smith-Pelly had only seven goals and 16 points in the entire regular season. When it comes to a new contract, MacLellan will likely want to pay for that player while Smith-Pelly will no doubt look to be paid like the player who scored seven times in 24 playoff games.

As of Wednesday when he spoke with reporters, Smith-Pelly said he had not yet had any talks with the team about a new contract, but also noted that, as a restricted free agent, “there’s no real rush.”

The Caps own Smith-Pelly’s rights which helps their bargaining position. Smith-Pelly, however, is arbitration eligible and his postseason stats will undoubtedly bump his value when viewed by a neutral arbitrator.

But there's a good chance it may not get anywhere close to that point.

“On the ice and off the ice I feel like this is the best situation I've been in,” Smith-Pelly said. “Obviously, never know what's going to happen but I found a place and I want to be back.”

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Brooks Orpik is the Caps’ ultimate role model for ‘how to be a true professoinal’

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USA Today

Brooks Orpik is the Caps’ ultimate role model for ‘how to be a true professoinal’

When training camp began, all eyes were on the stars like Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Braden Holtby. The eyes of all the young defensemen, however, were on Brooks Orpik.

Orpik, who will turn 38 on Wednesday, now enters his 17th professional season and fifth with the Washington Capitals. Once a staple on the top four, Orpik has seen his minutes and his on-ice role decrease with age. His role off the ice, however, remains as large as ever.

“All defensemen can come to him, all players will come to him on any number of issues and he's there for them,” head coach Todd Reirden said. “But more often than not, some of the players don't go to him and they just watch him and try to replicate some of the things he's doing.”

The impact that has on the locker room was enough that the Caps sought to re-sign Orpik even after trading him in the offseason.

Orpik and his $5.5 million cap hit was sent to the Colorado Avalanche as part of the Philipp Grubauer trade. Once the Avalanche bought Orpik out of his contract, the Caps jumped at the chance to re-sign him.

Why re-sign a player you just traded and risk the ire of the NHL? Because the impact he has on the team is worth it, especially for the younger players.

This year’s blue line for Washington will feature youngsters like Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey, who will both be in their second NHL seasons. Training camp also features several other young defensemen vying for a possible call-up like Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs.

Giving those players a chance to work with Orpik and see what it takes to be a true professional at the NHL level is invaluable.

“He's a true pro,” Bowey said. “I think anytime you have a guy like that in your locker room to look up to, it makes everyone's job a lot easier. I know he's a guy that I've leaned on a lot in my young career so far and is a guy that I'll continue to lean on. The way his presence is on the room, it's definitely recognizable and something that we all noticed.”

For his part, Orpik was adamant in that he does not feel his role has changed at all and is not approaching this season any differently. He is preparing this season to be a player, not a mentor.

But then again, he shouldn’t change anything because it is in how he trains, how he prepares, how he carries himself that he has become a role model.

“I remember when I was a younger guy, [Darius Kasparaitis] was there my first year,” Orpik said. “You catch yourself kind of just staring at these guys, watching these guys. I'm not naive, I know guys are constantly watching you.”

If he is going to be a mentor, he is determined to make sure it is going to be by example.

Said Reirden, “He's a great role model for how to be a true professional.”
 

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Capitals vs. Canadiens preseason Game 3: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Canadiens preseason Game 3: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Coming off two preseason losses to the Bruins, the Capitals look to secure their first win of the preseason in Montreal against the Canadiens on Thursday night.

The Canadiens are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Hurricanes, and Blues.

The next time the Capitals and Canadiens will meet again will be the first of November back in Montreal.  

But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 3 of the seven-game preseason schedule.

CAPITALS-CANADIENS PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Canadiens 

Where: Videotron Centre, Quebec City, QC, Canada

When: Thursday, September, 20, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Canadiens preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-CANADIENS PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE:

6:30 PM: Beyond the Scoreboard: Zach Leonsis 
7:00 PM: Capitals vs Montreal Canadiens 
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: DC Sports Live

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