Smith-Pelly on his time in Montreal: ‘It’s hard to improve when you’re playing just 10 minutes’

Associated Press

Devante Smith-Pelly was emotional when he found out that he was being traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 29, but the change of scenery has done him some good. The 23-year-old was nothing more than a bottom-six forward in Montreal, but in New Jersey he’s flourished in an offensive role.

Since joining the Devils, Smith-Pelly has had instant success with center Adam Henrique. The two have really meshed well since being put a line together by head coach John Hynes.

“It works with us,” Smith-Pelly said of playing with Adam Henrique (quotes have been translated). “Adam is a smart player who’s good with the puck, and I play 15, 16 or 17 minutes per game. In my first game with the Devils, I played almost 19 minutes. I have a bigger role here.

“It’s hard to improve when you’re playing just 10 minutes per game,” said Smith-Pelly, per LaPresse. There’s a big difference between my role with the Devils and my role with the Canadiens.”

The Devils forward has played at least 14 minutes in all but one of his games as a member of the Devils. In Montreal, he played 14 minutes or more just once this season (Nov. 25 vs. NYR).

Smith-Pelly’s picked up at least one point in six of his seven games with his new team. He has nine points during that span after scoring 12 points in 46 games with the Habs in 2015-16.

He probably won’t be able to keep scoring as often as he is now, but if he can find some level of consistency he’ll prove to be a steal for New Jersey.

The player he was traded for, Stefan Matteau, has one assist and a minus-3 rating while averaging 10:25 of ice time in six games with the Canadiens.