Despite the fact he was not tendered a qualifying offer earlier in the week, making him a pending unrestricted free agent, the forward has agreed to a one-year contract with the team.
Unlike Smith-Pelly’s expiring one-year, two-way contract this new deal is one-way only, Sportsnet’s John Shannon confirmed Wednesday.
The team has made no official announcement but Kevin Weekes of the NHL Network is among those reporting Smith-Pelly will earn an even $1 million for the 2018-19 season.
The Capitals don’t have too much cap space to work with, especially after signing John Carlson to a new eight-year deal, but a $1 million price tag would be a bargain for a 26-year-old who had just been playing the best hockey of his NHL career.
A qualifying offer would’ve cost the Capitals $715,000, a number Smith-Pelly was likely to turn down anyways. Shannon added that Smith-Pelly had longer offers to consider before electing to stay with the champs.
All in all, it seems like a win-win situation for both player and team. The two sides avoid going to arbitration, the player gets a pay bump and stays with the team he wants to play on, and the team gets great value for a bottom-six forward capable of making top-six impact in games that matter most.
Smith-Pelly was a major contributor for the Caps as they won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship. He scored seven times in 75 regular-season games for Washington in 2017-18 but added seven more goals in 24 post-season contests, including a clutch goal in the Cup-deciding game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Scarborough, Ont., native was selected in the second round (42nd overall) by the Anaheim Ducks in 2010. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in February 2015 and then was dealt to the New Jersey Devils a year later. Smith-Pelly joined the Capitals as a free agent last July after having the final year of his previous contract bought out by the Devils.
Smith-Pelly has 40 goals, 53 assists and 122 penalty minutes in 341 career regular-season NHL games.
“He’s become a big part of the team,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said earlier this month via Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post. “He brings good energy, he’s a good teammate, he’s well-liked. I mean, you could tell teammates really migrate toward him and like him, and then the crowd also likes him. They’re chanting ‘D-S-P’ all of the time. So it’s been fun how he’s got everybody to embrace him and his personality.”