Sometimes it takes an athlete an entire season to make a name for himself. Other times, it takes only a few short weeks during the most watched part of the year to earn the right to a starting spot on next season’s roster. For Anaheim Ducks winger Devante Smith-Pelly, the later is true.
Smith-Pelly has been in the Ducks organization since Anaheim drafted him as the 42nd pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and has certainly paid his dues with the organization throughout the past four years. While Smith-Pelly has been an on-again off-again call up from the Ducks’ minor league team, the Norfolk Admirals, it wasn’t until his more permanent call-up for this year’s playoffs that Smith-Pelly showed his ability to not only click with the team for found success, but click in spots no one else could — the Ducks’ top offensive line.
Since the trade of Dustin Penner, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau tried to no avail to find the trigger player to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, as Penner once was. While players such as Teemu Selanne and Kyle Palmieri were successful at times, the consistency needed was absent.
But during Anaheim’s playoff run, Boudreau hitched Smith-Pelly to the Getzlaf-Perry train and, for even the short time the line had together, all three offensive players found immediate success. Smith-Pelly’s strength along the boards played particularly well with the Los Angeles Kings‘ defensive game, giving him the ability to recover deep pucks and pass to his linemates for good center chances.
While the Ducks surely need a stronger top line force on a more permanent basis, Smith-Pelly’s five playoff goals seemed to have earned him the right to a conversation about becoming a more permanent spot on the Ducks’ regular season roster. Training camp and preseason games will surely play a part in it, but the ability Smith-Pelly showed to be able to find success in high pressure situations is exactly what Anaheim is going to be looking for come next season.