Marc Bergevin isn’t waiting until the trade deadline to make a deal as on Tuesday, the team announced that they have traded rookie winger Jiri Sekac to Anaheim. In return, the Canadiens have acquired rugged winger Devante Smith-Pelly in a one-for-one swap.
Smith-Pelly, 22, is in his first full NHL season after splitting the past three seasons between the Ducks and their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. In 54 games with Anaheim this year, he has five goals and twelve assists to go along with twelve PIMS and a +1 rating while averaging 14:38 of ice time per game. He also leads Anaheim with 147 hits, a mark that only trails Alexei Emelin (157) on the Canadiens.
Sekac, also 22, is also in his first full NHL campaign (although unlike Smith-Pelly, it’s his rookie season) and suited up for 50 games with the Canadiens. He picked seven goals and nine assists in those games with 18 PIMS and a -2 rating while averaging 13:48 per night. However, he had fallen down the depth chart in recent weeks and was slated to be a healthy scratch against the Blues on Tuesday night.
The logic behind the deal seems pretty simple for both teams. The Habs have long coveted toughness and while Smith-Pelly isn’t the biggest of players, he plays a very physical style and will bring some grit and energy to the bottom six. Meanwhile, Anaheim has been using a variety of wingers (including Smith-Pelly and former Hab Rene Bourque) in top six roles with limited success as they try to find some skill players that complement the likes of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. It seems likely that Sekac will get his chance to fill that void with the Ducks as well.
Financially, there isn’t a big difference between the two players’ contracts although the Canadiens pick up a tiny bit of cap space. Smith-Pelly is making $800,000 both this year and next while Sekac carries a base salary of $925,000 for this season as well as 2015-16. However, Sekac also carries $425,000 in potential bonuses for both years.
Smith-Pelly will not suit up for the Canadiens on Tuesday against St. Louis, meaning that the Habs will have just twelve active forwards on their game day roster for that game. Instead, he’ll join up with the team in Columbus, who Montreal faces on Thursday night.