Stefan Matteau

Devils bring back Bennett, Merrill and Smith-Pelly

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Earlier this week, the Devils didn’t make qualifying offers to defenseman Jon Merril and forwards Beau Bennett and Devante Smith-Pelly.

All part of the plan, apparently.

After the three hit unrestricted free agency on Friday, all three of ’em were quickly brought back.

The details, per the club:

— Bennett signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $725,000.

— Merrill signed a two-year, $2.275 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $1.137M.

— Smith-Pelly signed a two-year, $2.6 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $1.3M.

Bennett, acquired at the draft from Pittsburgh, will get a fresh start with the Devils after several injury-plagued seasons with the Pens.

Merrill, currently sidelined following major shoulder surgery, only played in 47 games last year due to a variety of injuries. He’s looking to rediscover the form shown during impressive rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

Smith-Pelly, 24, was acquired by the Devils from Montreal for Stefan Matteau on February 29, 2016. He set new career highs across the board with 14 goals and 25 points in 64 combined games this season. He notched eight goals and five assists in 18 games after his trade to New Jersey.

Related: Devils sign veterans Lovejoy, Fiddler

Dirty or not? Brendan Smith’s hit on Stefan Matteau (Video)

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Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith didn’t get penalized for a hard hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Stefan Matteau, but that doesn’t mean it was clean.

There’s plenty of debate on social media about it being dirty or not, but watch that check in the Sportsnet video above to decide for yourself.

As far as Matteau goes, he left the ice and appeared to be shaken up, yet it’s too early to tell if he’s injured. Smith was suspended back in 2011 but otherwise has a clean record in the NHL.

Here’s a taste of the back-and-forth:

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

Associated Press
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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.

Canadiens, Devils swap Smith-Pelly for Matteau

Associated Press
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After shipping Eric Gelinas to Colorado and Lee Stempniak to Boston, the New Jersey Devils picked up forward Devante Smith-Pelly from the Montreal Canadiens for Stefan Matteau.

The Devils drafted Matteau in the first round, 29th overall, in 2012. He has three goals and five points in 44 career games with New Jersey.

The Canadiens will find out if there’s an ounce of offensive upside remaining in Matteau’s game. Montreal has holes on their first three lines which means that Matteau could see some meaningful minutes for the first time in his NHL career.

The 22-year-old is the son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau.

Smith-Pelly was acquired from the Ducks last season, but failed to make a lasting impression on the Canadiens brass. The 23-year-old plays a heavy game, but lacks the ideal skill and speed to be a regular contributor on a team’s top three lines.

Matteau has one year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $650,000 while Smith-Pelly will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

PHT’s Trade Deadline Tracker

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Here’s the full list of deals made prior to the Monday, Feb. 29th 3 p.m. EST trade deadline..

Feb. 29

To Anaheim: Jamie McGinn
To Buffalo: conditional 3rd-round pick (link)

To Chicago: Tim Jackman, seventh-round pick
To Anaheim: Corey Tropp (link)

To Edmonton: Patrick Maroon
To Anaheim: Martin Gernat, fourth-round pick (link)

To Minnesota: David Jones
To Calgary: Niklas Backstrom, sixth-round pick (link)

To Nashville: Corey Potter
To Arizona: “Future considerations” (link)

To Pittsburgh: Dustin Jeffrey
To Arizona: Matia Marcantuoni (link)

To New York Islanders: Marc-Andre Cliche
To Colorado: Taylor Beck (link)

To Los Angeles: Brett Sutter
To Minnesota: Scott Sabourin (link)

To Montreal: Stefan Matteau
To New Jersey: Devante Smith-Pelly (link)

To Boston: Lee Stempniak
To New Jersey: ’17 2nd-round pick, ’16 4th-round pick (link)

To New York Islanders: Shane Prince, ’16 7th-round pick
To Ottawa: ’16 3rd-round pick (link)

To Boston: John-Michael Liles
To Carolina: Anthony Camara, 3rd-round pick, 5th-round pick (link)

To Anaheim: Brandon Pirri
To Florida: ’16 6th-round pick (link)

To Colorado: Eric Gelinas
To New Jersey: ’17 3rd-round pick (link)

To Dallas: Kris Russell
To Calgary: Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock, conditional 2nd-round pick (link)

To Colorado: Mikkel Boedker
To Arizona: Alex Tanguay, Conner Bleackley, Kyle Wood (link)

To Carolina: Dennis Robertson
To Chicago: Drew McIntyre (link)

To Arizona: Sergei Plotnikov
To Pittsburgh: Matthias Plachta, ’17 7th-round pick (link)

Feb. 28

To Washington: Daniel Winnik, ’16 5th-round pick
To Toronto: Brooks Laich, Connor Carrick, ’16 2nd-round pick (link)

To New York Rangers: Chris Brown
To Washington: Ryan Bourque (link)

To New York Rangers: Eric Staal
To Carolina: ’16 2nd-round pick, ’17 2nd-round pick, Aleksi Saarela (link)

To L.A.: Kris Versteeg
To Carolina: Valentin Zykov, 5th-round pick (link)

Feb. 27

To Buffalo: Alex Guptill, Eric O’Dell, Cole Schneider, Michael Sdao
To Ottawa: Jason Akeson, Phil Varone, Jerome Leduc (link)

To Pittsburgh: Justin Schultz
To Edmonton: ’16 3rd-round pick (link)

To Florida: Jakub Kindl
To Detroit: ’17 6th-round pick (link)

To Florida: Teddy Purcell
To Edmonton: 3rd-round pick (link)

To Florida: Jiri Hudler
To Calgary: ’16 2nd-round pick, ’18 4th-round pick (link)

To St. Louis: Anders Nilsson
To Edmonton: Niklas Lundstrom, ’16 5th-round pick (link)

To San Jose: James Reimer, Jeremy Morin
To Toronto: Alex Stalock, Ben Smith, ’18 4th-round pick (link)

Feb. 26

To Chicago: Dale Weise, Tomas Fleischmann
To Montreal: Philip Danault, ’18 2nd-round pick (link)

Feb. 25

To Chicago: Andrew Ladd, Matt Fraser, Jay Harrison
To Winnipeg: Mark Dano, ’16 1st-round pick, ’18 3rd-round pick (link)

Feb. 24

To Vancouver: Philip Larsen
To Edmonton: ’17th 5th-round pick (link)

Feb. 23

To Washington: Mike Weber
To Buffalo: ’17 3rd-round pick (link)

Feb. 22

To San Jose: Roman Polak, Nick Spaling
To Toronto: Raffi Torres, ’17 2nd-round pick, ’18 2nd-round pick (link)

To Vancouver: Markus Granlund
To Calgary: Hunter Shinkaruk (link)

Feb. 21

To Colorado: Shawn Matthias
To Toronto: Colin Smith, ’16 4th-round pick (link)