Devante Smith-Pelly knows what he’s getting into with the Montreal Canadiens.
"I know it can get nuts down there but I’m pretty excited," Smith-Pelly said Tuesday.
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He was dealt to Montreal by the Anaheim Ducks for rookie Jiri Sekac in a swap of players who are similar in many ways.
The difference is that Montreal got a physical, right-shooting winger in Smith-Pelly in exchange for a quicker, flashier left-hand shot in Sekac.
"It was a good trade for both teams," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters in St. Louis, where his team was to face the Blues on Tuesday night.
The straight player-for-player swap between two of the NHL’s top clubs was the first move by each team ahead of the NHL trade deadline on Monday.
Bergevin said Smith-Pelly’s physical play and penalty killing ability will help in the playoffs. He had five goals in 12 postseason games for Anaheim last spring.
"He’s also a right-hand shot. I’ve been looking for one of those for a while," Bergevin said.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray was looking for skill.
"We needed to get a little faster, a little more skill in the lineup," Murray said. "No complaints with Devo. I thought we had to make a hockey trade to change the look of our team."
Both Smith-Pelly and Sekac are 22, born four days apart in June 1992. Both played in the 2012 world junior championships, with Smith-Pelly taking bronze for Canada despite missing all but the first game due to a broken foot and Sekac finishing fifth with the Czech Republic.
Smith-Pelly’s world junior teammates included Canadiens Nathan Beaulieu, Brendan Gallagher and Michael Bournival.
Smith-Pelly is 6 feet, 222 pounds, while Sekac is 6-feet-2 and 195 pounds. Both are signed through 2015-16. Smith-Pelly earns $800,000 while Sekac has a $1.35-million cap hit.
And both are in the midst of scoring slumps
Smith-Pelly had five goals and 12 assists in 54 games and averaged 14:38 of ice time for the Ducks this season, but he has not scored in 10 games and has only one goal and six assists in his past 31.
"The lines were always changing (in Anaheim)," Smith-Pelly said of his slump. "I’ve been a right winger my whole life and I’ve been playing left-wing and center. Getting moved, it’s kind of hard to get traction."
Sekac has seven goals and nine assists and averaged 13:48 of ice time per game in 50 games, but has no goals and two assists in 21 games since Dec. 29. He was a healthy scratch twice last week.
"(Sekac) has good upside offensively," Murray said. "He can skate, he can shoot. He’s one of those late bloomers."
The Canadiens, who have been winning despite ranking 23rd in NHL scoring at 2.56 goals per game, were thought to be seeking offense on the trade market. Instead, they got the Ducks’ hits leader with 147.
Smith-Pelly is in his first full NHL season. He has 14 goals and 26 assists in 129 regular-season games since making his debut with Anaheim in 2011-12. He was drafted 42nd overall in 2010.
The teams will face each another in Anaheim next week.