NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Watch Devante Smith-Pelly at a Norfolk Admirals practice, and you’ll see a guy who’s having fun. He’ll chat and joke with his teammates, smiling from ear to ear.
Watch him during a game, and it’s not very hard to see why he’s having so much fun these days. The 21-year-old left wing is leading the Admirals in scoring, having scored a career-best 26 goals through 65 games this season. The reasoning for his high-level play this year goes back to a little piece of advice he got years ago.
“My junior coach told me, ‘You go around the net, you’re going to get 10 extra goals a year, rather than just standing on the outside and shooting.’ So that’s what I try and do; get towards the net,” said Smith-Pelly.
With 11 games still to go this season, Smith-Pelly’s goal tally is 12 more than all of last season.
Figures his best season as a pro is still not enough to give him a roster spot on Norfolk’s parent club, the Anaheim Ducks, who are stacked with talent and rank as one of the best teams in the NHL this season. That’s not stopping Smith-Pelly from shooting for his ultimate goal of playing for an NHL squad on a permanent basis.
“Not only do you want to stay (in the NHL), but you want to have an impact,” says Smith-Pelly, “That’s the end goal; to be a regular and have an impact.”
The Admirals are hoping Smith-Pelly has an impact on their hunt for a playoff spot.