After initial reports that Dmitrij Jaskin would be placed on waivers, the Capitals did an about face and placed forward Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers instead. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the move.
It was reported earlier in the day that Jaskin would not practice with the team because he would be placed on waivers. Smith-Pelly was on the ice for practice, but left before it ended.
It remains unclear how exactly this all played out. Since it seems clear the team originally intended to put Jaskin on waivers, this could signal that general manager Brian MacLellan received an offer for the 25-year-old winger and decided to keep on the roster in order to trade him.
Jaskin has played sparingly this season with only 36 games in a fourth line role, but seemed to play well whenever he was in the lineup. Teams with the worst record get priority on waiver claims so perhaps a general manager felt he was too far down the list for Jaskin to fall to his team.
This could also mean that other trades are possibly in the works.
Washington had 23 players on its active roster, the maximum allowed by the NHL. If the team hopes to add someone via a trade, clearing up a roster spot was a necessary move. Otherwise a player from the active roster would have to be included in the trade.
Waiving Smith-Pelly also means moving his $1 million cap hit which provides some roster flexibility.
Smith-Pelly was one of the heroes of the playoffs last season with seven goals in 24 games after scoring just seven goals in the regular season. This season got off to a rocky start, however, as he was held out of the majority of the preseason. It was believed conditioning was the issue, though Smith-Pelly denied it. The playoff performance certainly did not carry over into 2018-19 as he has just four goals and eight total points in 54 games.
Teams will have 24 hours to put a claim on Smith-Pelly before he clears waivers on Thursday. With teams preparing their rosters for the playoffs, Smith-Pelly could be an attractive target for a team looking to bolster its forward depth. Last season was not the first time Smith-Pelly had a breakout postseason performance. In 2014, he scored five goals in 12 games for the Anaheim Ducks.
If the Caps do not intend to make a trade, then waiving Smith-Pelly also clears the way for defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to return. Siegenthaler was recalled in November due to injuries on the blue line and seemed to become a regular on the third pair. As the only waiver exempt player on the roster, however, he was sent back to Hershey after Christian Djoos returned.
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