Smith-Pelly the First of Many Canadiens Trades… Right?

It’s almost like the Montreal Canadiens gave up a lottery ticket for tomorrow’s draw for a bag of nuts at the convenience store counter when they traded away forward Jiri Sekac for Devante Smith-Pelly. Emphasis on the nuts.


Sekac for Smith-Pelly

Former Montreal Canadiens forward Jiri Sekac
Former Montreal Canadiens forward Jiri Sekac – (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Sure, Sekac wasn’t producing—the free-agent signing had just 16 points and one in his last nine games. However, there’s little denying his capabilities. Whether they were ever going to translate into long-term offensive success was anyone’s guess. But he is just 22 years old (like Smith-Pelly), and this whole deal reeks of the Habs and general manager Marc Bergevin giving up too early on a player with a whole lot of potential.

Smith-Pelly, a 2010 second-round pick, can no doubt help the Canadiens. He led the Anaheim Ducks with 147 hits after all (defenseman Alexei Emelin leads the Habs with 157). But, just like Sekac has two inches on him (6’2” versus 6’0”), his ceiling is (much) higher too.

Sure, Smith-Pelly is 220 pounds (Sekac is 195 lbs) and he instantly becomes Montreal’s heaviest forward, but there is a real sense the Habs, a team lacking offense, gave up yet another top-six-forward type (after Rene Bourque) in exchange for a depth player at best… What? I said “type.”


On the Plus Side

Smith-Pelly actually has more points than Sekac this year (17), but this is a guy who has spent time on the Anaheim Ducks’ top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the past. While that sounds impressive, he doesn’t have much to show for his brief time riding shotgun with two of the top stars in the game.

In sharp contrast, Dale Weise has received all kinds of fanfare for his stint on Montreal’s much less talented top line alongside Max Pacioretty and either David Desharnais or Tomas Plekanec.

This is no offense to Weise, who is a great bottom-six forward and decent first-line one in a pinch, but the Habs need a player who’s even less capable of putting the puck in the net consistently like they do a hole in the head… and by head I mean lineup.


Right or Wrong?

While Bergevin gets a right-handed shot to fill a slot on the right side, Sekac could play on the right as well (despite shooting left). Now Montreal’s right side essentially comprises Brendan Gallagher, Dale Weise, Smith-Pelly, and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau once he’s healthy. It’s a less-than-ideal foursome when the Habs have the 23rd-ranked offense in the league. Smith-Pelly is unlikely to make it better.

It’s technically not a bad move by the Canadiens, especially in the short-term, seeing as Sekac was in a slump. Even looking to next season, the Habs will save $550,000 against the Cap with Smith-Pelly’s $800,000 cap hit (Sekac’s will be $1.35 million).

However, this move only really works out if the Habs are able to add to that offense in the lead-up to next Monday’s trade deadline. If this is the first of several deals that will beef up Montreal’s forward lines, so be it. But the key will be not giving up much in exchange. One can argue that, in Sekac, the Habs already have.

Smith-Pelly is expected to join the Canadiens in Columbus on Wednesday, in time for Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets. The Habs face the Blues in St. Louis Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern.

19 thoughts on “Smith-Pelly the First of Many Canadiens Trades… Right?”

  1. Ryan, having read your piece, I had tears in my eyes, worrying about where the Habs are in the standings..Look, with Sekac, everything is “potentially”, “if”and “when”….with DSP, we KNOW what we get, and I don’t think Bergevin is dreaming in color as to DSP’s potential…Would the Habs be better with a scoring power forward …who would nt be ! and please, your sarcasm would be better suited to the Bruins…

    • “Power forward” implies an inherent ability to produce consistently. That really doesn’t apply to Smith-Pelly. Granted it didn’t apply to Sekac either (who lacked the same physicality), but I think a lot of people are getting ahead of themselves proclaiming Smith-Pelly to be this team’s offensive saviour.

      I agree that Smith-Pelly has tools Montreal can use during the playoffs (and regular season), but other physical, less-expensive players exist. Bergevin shouldn’t have had to give up Sekac to get one of them.

  2. Ryan, settle down bud. DSP is a piece..a very important piece to becoming a much better balanced team, with grit, physicality, and character. I liked sekac and to be fair, he didn’t get the chance he needed to play with top 6 guys. Having said that, with where THIS team is at developmentally, and with what our overall team balance needs are, DSP fills that need. At 22, its also worthy to note that his upside, offensively, is fairly decent as well.

    If it were up to me, I would roll him immediately with Pacc and DD…he just might be the kind of winger that line needs. First on the puck, able to create space and time for dd and pacc.

    I wish sekac luck, nice guy, I hope he does well but to be honest, I don’t really care. He’s gone. DSP is ours and I for one am glad he is on our team. He is EXACTLY what we needed but certainly not all we need. He’s a piece towards a 2-3 year plan.

    • In my opinion, what the Habs really needed was a boost on offense right now. Not a project for the future, which is what I see Smith-Pelly as, at best. At worst, he’s a third line forward with a big body, which can still be useful. I just wish the Habs didn’t have to give up Sekac, who has a much higher ceiling to get him.

      Hopefully you’re right. Although, if Smith-Pelly wasn’t able to get going with Getzlaf or Perry, I’m not sure he’ll pan out with Pacioretty and Desharnais. I have been proven wrong before, though : ).

      • Again, the habs need the type of player that dsp is more than they needed sekac…we have some very good offensive players in the system and on the current team….we needed a banger, a north south player. Balance is a key for any team and we have been lacking it for years. This is a start to addressing that…mccarron and hopefully crisp can add to it…keep an eye out too for Carr…my guess is bergy sees DLR and Carr as options that gave him room to let sekac go.

        Sekac might roll with getzlaf and perry…which is great if he does…I don’t care what he does now…he aint a hab. I care what dsp brings to this team and its not all about numbers with this kid…its about grit, toughness, style of play.

        • I don’t think De La Rose has the offensive upside that Sekac did. I don’t think anyone projects the former as a top-six forward. I think De La Rose will end up a dominant third-liner. What Sekac needed was top-six ice time to flourish and the Habs didn’t give it to him.
          You’re right, five goals in 12 playoff games is good. Rene Bourque had eight in 17 though. Just goes to show that one playoff year does not a successful career make.
          I may very well be wrong, and I hope I am. My gut tells me this is a trade that will haunt the team for a long time.

          • That is so pointless to say “my gut tells me this is a trade that will haunt the team”. You should take a page from Eric Engels and develop a following through an honest and positive outlook on our favorite hockey team, after all it’s the only reason we’re reading your stuff ;)

            • his stuff is junk…this writer knows nothing. The habs have been imbalanced for years with no toughness and grit….dsp combines that along with skill…something we sorely lacked…

          • ryan, it is my opinion that you really don’t understand how this team needs to be built.
            DLR is not a scorer…we all know that…any rank amateur knows that…and maybe sekac will become a scorer…but we need GRIT, TOUGHNESS, PUCK PRESSURE, HARD HITTING CANADIAN NORTH SOUTH HOCKEY.

            • I never said that Montreal couldn’t use Smith-Pelly. I only said that giving up Sekac was a high price to pay to get a guy like that (who very well may not end up becoming a guy who can score in addition to crashing and banging). If Bergevin addresses Montreal’s other needs up front (i.e., getting goals), then to me the cost of giving up Sekac becomes much less of a sticking point.

  3. Why the negativity? Sure, Sekac is a promising young prospect who may flourish, no doubt, but he didn’t fit for what was needed. Aside from the “un-necessity” of a potential sub-talented 20 goal, 50 point scorer, the habs had farm players outperforming Sekac (De La Rose, Thomas) and MB turned the decent value of an unneeded type of prospect into a young power forward with offensive AND defensive potential. I like this trade even if Devo doesn’t pan out right away.

    • I think his offensive potential has been overstated. He couldn’t gain traction playing with Getzlaf or Perry. In my opinion, Montreal gave a potential top-six forward for a bottom-six one who may have already reached his ceiling. True, Sekac may not yet pan out, but, in terms of offense, he and Smith-Pelly had the same amount of output. So the Habs essentially gave up a piece of the future (potentially) for more checking ability, which is readily available at a much cheaper price. It remains to be seen how Sekac turns out, but if the rumours of him playing with Getzlaf and Perry come to fruition, this trade could end up making Bergevin look really bad. He’s been a great GM so far. He’s entitled to a mistake here and there. I just wish the mistake didn’t involve Sekac.

      • you probably love lars too…
        dsp scored more goals in the pre nhl leagues than sekac…I actually think dsp has a higher offensive ceiling than sekac PLUS he bangs… and by the way, dsp has not come close to his ceiling….

        • I like Lars as a potential top-six forward in the future. But he obviously has some confidence problems he needs to work through as well as a general lack of playmaking creativity.
          I also wouldn’t read too much into pre-NHL stats. Lots of players light it up in major junior and don’t even enjoy an NHL career.

          • lars is not a top six forward on any team…he just isn’t…he has what? 17 pts and is a negative what?

            give me a break…all the larsmaniacs in this city are pathetic…its always been a hate for DD that fuels their devotion to lars. Lets be honest.

            get rid of lars now while he is worth something ….we have plenty of kids who can replace and exceed him.

  4. Smith-Pelly is a Bob Gainey type forward. He doesn’t get caught out of position, hustles just as much on defense as offense, is powerful along the boards, stays in get shape… You will love this cat, and the Ducks really hurt themselves against teams like the Kings by adding another fast skater that doesn’t produce. Smith-Pelly is a playoff forward.

    • I appreciate the candid response… I think Sekac may end up breaking out of his slump in a big way with the Ducks, though. Hopefully Smith-Pelly will prove me wrong.

    • I don’t think the Ducks piece at the top of the page should have been added to the Habs page, but, even then, I agree. Ideally, there wouldn’t be three pieces covering the same trade on the same page. It’s only natural that three different writers would want to express their individual points of view on a Habs trade when there hasn’t been one for a while. Because each point of view is, as you saw, different, it’s somewhat justified as well, in my opinion.

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