When he signed a one-year contract to remain with the Capitals after a Cinderella story-like run last season, it was expected right wing Devante Smith-Pelly would pick up where he left off in the Capitals’ run to the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup. However, through two rounds of roster cuts, four preseason games, and numerous practices, the postseason standout has yet to appear in a game for the team, and that doesn’t seem set to change anytime soon.
In his press conference with the media earlier today, Head Coach Todd Reirden confirmed that Smith-Pelly would not play in tomorrow’s preseason game against the St. Louis Blues. When pressed on whether the circumstances regarding his player’s absence was injury-related, Reirden somewhat avoided the question, responding, “When he’s ready to play, he’ll play”.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 24, 2018
The question now becomes what it is that is keeping arguably, one of the Caps’ most valuable contributors in their championship run (eight points – including seven key goals – in 24 games played) out of the lineup (albeit a preseason one).
While there has been speculation ranging from a fitness or conditioning issue, to the aforementioned injury, the team is keeping tight-lipped on the matter as a whole. With Smith-Pelly participating in practice and training camp, it seems doubtful it is an injury-related issue.
Reirden has repeatedly stated that it is due to Smith-Pelly “not being at the level he was at last year”, which, is somewhat of a broad answer when one considers how much of an impact the 26-year old winger had last season. However, the longer Smith-Pelly remains out of the lineup, the question will become whether he will miss regular season action as a result. As the Capitals have remained mum on the entire situation and circumstances surrounding it up until now, it is likely the answers will only be revealed in time.
By Michael Fleetwood