The success of the Anaheim Ducks in 2013 was able to overshadow the disappointments of a few individual players. One of those players, who struggled very quietly since he had very little opportunity at the top level, was Devante Smith-Pelly. It’s hard to call it a sophomore slump when he didn’t have a real opportunity to even slump.
Smith-Pelly was a surprisingly effective rookie for the Ducks during the 2011-2012 season. He played in 49 games with that disappointing Ducks club, finishing the season with 13 points and a minus-7 rating. He saw a bit of time on special teams, with a couple of points on the power play and a shorthanded goal.
This season, Smith-Pelly was not able to build on the success that he did experience in his first year. In fact, he took one gigantic step backward. He didn’t do much of anything with the Ducks, mainly because he didn’t have a real opportunity. He was decent in the AHL though, which could lead to another opportunity heading into next season.
Smith-Pelly played in 65 games with the Norfolk Admirals, ending the year with 32 points, including 14 goals. Not a terrible total at all. The one glaring issue on his stat line, however, is that minus-20. Regardless of what you may think of plus/minus, it’s not pretty. In seven games with the Ducks, he was a minus-4.
Those seven games with the Ducks included that very mediocre plus/minus and zero points. He was only able to manage five shots on goal, but did have 14 hits in those seven games, along with a few blocked shots. We saw some of the basis for what could make Smith-Pelly a very effective player, but he was unable to put it together. Nor was he given the time to do so.
Given what he brings to the table, the door should be open for Devante Smith-Pelly to contribute more with the Ducks next season. In a full season, he’ll have a little more time to get it together. He’s the type of guy who can be a tough matchup for opposing clubs, with the size he brings to the equation. Heading into the contract year, we could see him return to that rookie form, and build on it next season.