Devante Smith-Pelly was literally contemplating retirement last summer after the New Jersey Devils bought out his contract. It looked as if no one wanted him. He took a chance with the Washington Capitals, who offered him a league minimum deal that was also a two-way contract, meaning they could have easily sent him down to the AHL if need be. He stuck with the big club and the rest is history.
And just two days ago, the Capitals were able to re-sign playoff hero Smith-Pelly to a very reasonable one year, $1M contract. There were reports, confirmed by Devante himself, that at least two other teams were offering him more money and/or longer term, but he decided to stick with the Capitals. Though a small deal, it says a lot about the current state of the Washington Capitals organization.
It was very possible Devante could have gone from making league minimum this past season to around $1.5M for a one or two more seasons. That might not sound like much, but for a 4th liner like Smith-Pelly that’s huge. 4th liners tend not to make that much, unless you play for the New York Islanders. So if they ever get a chance to cash in as much as they can, like Jay Beagle just did, they should.
But Divo, as his teammates call him, decided to stick with the Capitals for one year $1M, “I just decided it wasn’t really worth it,” He said. “It wasn’t worth it to leave somewhere where I’m happy and somewhere where I really want to be.”
There were reports in the last couple years during General Manager George McPhee’s reign that agents were telling their players not to sign with the Capitals. And players like Dmitry Orlov were asking to be traded to get away from the organization. We’re now at a point where players are taking discounts to stick with the team.
Both TJ Oshie and John Carlson could have received more money on the open market if they decided to go that route. That’s huge and says a lot about this organization. It says they will not only treat you right, but they embrace you like family and want to keep winning.
In a time where organizations like the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens seem to be falling apart, it’s refreshing to see the Capitals and its players really want to stick together and keep winning. “This team is just incredibly close, so I’m incredibly comfortable there,” Divo said. He added later, “I love all my teammates, I love this city. And obviously we won, so I was super happy there. But at that same time, that’s not to say I’m not thankful for the chance they gave me, for giving me a shot to be on this team.”
This also bodes well for the future of other unrestricted free agents or players that want to be traded to a new team. The Capitals took-on Brett Connolly, Smith-Pelly, and Michal Kempny, players that their teams didn’t want, over the last two seasons and turned them into valuable Stanley Cup Champions. Who wouldn’t want to go to that organization? It’s satisfying that we, as Capitals fans, know that the current regime is cultivating a place where players are happy, loved, and willing to sacrifice to stay.
By Luke Adomanis