Devante Smith-Pelly headed for free agency?

Brian Tinsman
June 26, 2018 - 5:57 pm

(Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

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He may not have been a household name before the playoffs, but Devante Smith-Pelly had fans in his home arena chanting "D-S-P!" before helping his team hoist the Stanley Cup.

Now, just as quickly as he arrived, he may soon depart after not being qualified on the eve of restricted free agency.

If no long-term deal can be reached before July 1, he will enter the open market.

This seems bizarre considering Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan's candid remarks on DSP just last week.

"He's become a big part of the team," MacLellan told the media. "He brings good energy, he's a good teammate, he's well-liked.

"You could tell the teammates really migrate towards him, they like him and then the crowd also likes him. They're chanting 'DSP' all the time so it's been fun to watch how he's got everybody to embrace him and his personality."

This has the makings of a real feel-good story, but first, the two sides have to agree to terms. 

As Caps insider Isabelle Khurshudyan noted on Monday, DSP made the league minimum last year ($650,000) and would have been due only a 10 percent increase. The NHL allows players to reject qualifying offers, and the case would have proceeded to arbitration. 

The Caps have very little breathing room against the salary cap and have other players to consider in their offseason plans. Already, they have shipped out Brooks Orpik and Philipp Grubauer, while giving John Carlson a long-term deal.

There's a chance that he could become the next Brett Connolly, who was not qualified last year but signed a two-year deal on July 1. He also could enter the free agent market and still return to the team as well.

This will be a story to watch as the week unfolds.

 

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