The Washington Capitals are able to recall Devante Smith-Pelly from the AHL Hershey Bears at any time now. As of Monday afternoon, it has yet to happen.
Smith-Pelly, who scored three goals in the last three games of the Stanley Cup Final in June, cleared waivers and was assigned to Hershey in February to make room for a trade for Carl Hagelin. He’s played in the AHL since then, and the Capitals are not in a rush to call him back up.
“We have guys here that have played well. We’ve played really well down the stretch. We’re not anxious to make changes but we’re open to whatever it takes,” general manager Brian MacLellan said Monday. “If we need Devante — he’s played well down there — we’ll use him.”
NHL teams are allowed to disregard the salary cap limit and roster as many players as they wish during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Last year during playoff time, the Capitals recalled minor-league players Pheonix Copley and Nathan Walker, the latter of whom actually saw ice time due to injuries and suspensions in the lineup. These extra players are often called “black aces.”
The Bears qualified for the AHL’s playoffs and will continue to play meaningful games in April and perhaps beyond. But MacLellan does not view that as a complicating factor when deciding who to call up to the NHL roster.
“I think it’s more advantageous because these guys get to keep playing, versus having a guy come up and do the extra player skate,” MacLellan said. “You’re gonna lose your game a little bit, you lose the timing of it. So we have guys down there that we’re considering bringing up, and they’re playing, they’re playing power play, they’re playing penalty kill. I think their game stays sharper and if we need them we can call them up.”
• Adam Zielonka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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