We predicted a bridge contract was most likely for DSP or a trade to take advantage of his playoff performance. Barring that, we expected the Caps to skip the qualifying offer and let him test the waters, again.
Indeed the Caps did not initially tender him an offer sheet as a restricted free agent which meant he was free to talk to other teams. Rumor is he did talk to others but wanted to remain with the Capitals, for a cool million and one more year. Can you blame him???
DSP came to the Capitals after the Devils placed him on waivers in June 2016. There were questions about his consistency and maybe some concerns about a knee injury that kept giving him problems. It wasn’t even clear if he would play for the Hershey Bears or the Caps as the Caps signed him to a two-way, one-year contract. After training camp the Caps decided they liked his style of play and opted to give him a chance to succeed.
It turned out to be worth the risk. In December 2017, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded his 50th NHL Career assist. At that point he had recorded 10 points in 30 games and we thought he was on his way to one of his best seasons yet.
He ended the regular season with seven goals and nine assists and a -6. A slight improvement over his previous seasons in the league. He also increased his penalty minutes from 12 minutes in the previous season to 38 minutes with the Caps. The inconsistency of his play still seemed to be a factor.
And then came the playoffs
He had some of the most memorable goals of the playoffs with seven goals and one assist, his best playoff performance to date. He fully restored his reputation in the 2 June game against the Vegas Golden Knights after catching two penalties (interference and tripping) in the first and second periods he scored the third goal for the Caps off a pass from Jay Beagle. He then went on in Game Four to show his scoring prowess, again with the third goal of the game. And finally in Game Five he tied up the game with a sweet little move off the pass from Brooks Orpik. All this contributed to the Caps bringing home the cup!
Regardless of all the official mumbo jumbo we are thrilled to have DSP back for another year.