The Washington Capitals have undergone some major changes this offseason, losing Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk and Marcus Johansson as they try to stay under the salary cap while also keeping their core together. New contracts for Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and T.J. Oshie not only forced them to part ways with the aforementioned players, but also limited what they were able to do when it came to adding new faces.
One player they did bring in was forward Devante Smith-Pelly in the hopes that he can become the player that he was expected to be earlier in his career.
“I think there’s some untapped potential,” general manager Brian MacLellan said last week, via CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I think maybe conditioning played a factor in some of it. I think we’re going to work with him to see if we can get a little bit of that back and create a player that we can use.”
A second-round pick by the Ducks in 2010, he has shown flashes of promise as a power forward in the NHL but hasn’t always put it all together for a full season. It started to look like he might blossom late in the 2015-16 season following a trade to the New Jersey Devils when he scored eight goals and added five assists in the final 18 games of the regular season. But he came back last season and once again struggled, scoring just four goals in 53 games.
At 25 and with more than 266 games in the NHL on his resume Smith-Pelly is past the point of being a prospect. But he still has some talent and it’s not unheard of for players like him to excel in a new situation. He is certainly going to a team that will be able to put plenty of talent around him.