Quick quiz for you, on the Anaheim Ducks’ eight game road trip, which two players tied for the team lead in assist?
If Ryan Getzlaf was one of your answers, great, but that was a little obvious wasn’t it? But if you came up with Devante Smith-Pelly as your second answer – awesome you have been paying attention.
Smith-Pelly fell attention wise behind the two players the Ducks drafted ahead of him in the 2010 draft, Cam Fowler and Emerson Etem, but not surprisingly. Fowler was one of the best defenseman in the draft class and was coming off an impressive performance in the World Junior Hockey Championships, helping team USA to gold. Etem was the ‘hometown’ boy, becoming the first ‘Cali’ kid to be drafted in the first round by one of the California teams.
Questioned with his consistency early on, stating at times he was a dominant force, but could completely disappear at other times – Smith-Pelly has certainly seemed to hit his stride so far this year with the Ducks playing one way – relentless.
Known for his tenacious forechecking and physical play, Smith-Pelly has created opportunities for his teammates that has gotten him seven assist on the season by simply playing his game.
Looking back at each point he has scored this season you will see a common theme, Smith-Pelly never giving up on a play and forcing a turnover or showing an extra little bit of hustle to beat his opposition to the puck.
His early season success is proof of when coaches try to drill the concept of hustle, hard work and playing in all three zones does work and will lead to individual and team success. The Stanley Cup isn’t won solely by superstars, but by the role players that are willing to do all the little things right.
While it’s easy to say Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are the main reasons for the Ducks sitting atop the standings, and it might be true, but it’s players like Smith-Pelly who can create for themselves and his teammates when Getzlaf and Perry aren’t on the ice that make the Ducks that much more dangerous.
At just 21-years of age there is plenty more room to grow for Smith-Pelly, but if his play so far this year is any indication, he may be coming into his own already and be well on his way into becoming the dominant ‘consistent’ wrecking force the Ducks had anticipated he would become when they drafted him.