Flames Re-sign Derek Smith

 

 

Calgary announced the re-signing of Derek Smith today. The journeyman defender found a home on Calgary’s blueline against long odds this season. The deal is two years at $775k per year. Notably for Smith, who has battled to stay in the big league for a long time, it is a one-way contract.

The contract is a decent one. Before being injured, Smith was a capable depth option for the Flames. He never quite consistently cracked the top-four rotation of Giordano, Hannan, Butler and Bouwmeester, but he seems to be a better option than, say, Anton Babchuk or Corey Sarich. Smith is 27-years old and was averaging about 17 minutes before his injury.

In terms of quality of competition, Smith faced the 5th toughest behind the four aforementioned guys above. His zone start has also been the second easiest behind rookie TJ Brodie (50.9%). I’ve seen some superlatives thrown around about Smith in various places since the signing, but let’s put this into perspective: he’s a depth defender who survived in relatively soft minutes. He’s also only been around for 32 games, which a really small sample to judge a player by.

The contract is cheap and short, though, so there’s little to no risk attached. If Smith runs in place or improves, he’s good value. If he regresses, it’s not a hard ticket to demote or trade away. He’s at an age where he should be in his prime professionally and his skillset of mobility and puck distribution are good assets to have on the back-end.

Put me down as in favor.

  • Early in the season I was VERY against Smith, but as the season progress you could see him progress and easily be our best option at the time for the 5/6 pairing. Now if he comes back and is paired with Brodie on the 5/6 pairing that doesn’t look to bad.

    • I’m okay with the Flames identifying and re-signing pending UFA’s right now before the deadline. I hope Feaster has all his Ducks in a row in that regard come the end of the month so the Flames know who they are keeping and who they can shop.

      • RexLibris

        I would imagine that Feaster and co. have already classified their expiring contracts into something like three groups: “keep”, “sell”, and “marginal” with the marginal group being ones to keep unless offered an exceptional deal or sell unless they can be re-signed for an exceptional cost.

        As far as the Flames are concerned, the Stempniak injury could be the one that frustrates the most because my guess is that he likely would have been made available and his return could have been either a 3rd or 2nd round pick. Moss might also have fallen into that category, though perhaps not quite so high a return.

        Kent, do you expect to hear of Jokinen re-signing soon as well or do you feel that he will be sent away with an understanding of interest in the off-season? To my mind, if the Flames trade Jokinen then they are signaling an end to pursuing a playoff position this year. They don’t have the centre depth to move him and still argue (at least with a straight face) that they are capable of fighting down to the wire for the 8th spot.

        • I expect (fear, actually) Jokinen will be re-signed, although I expect it will take a bit longer for that one to be done.

          Olli and agent will be going for his last big contract after this relatively good season, so they’ll be pushing for 3+ years at a non-trivial cap hit. They will also assume he will be able to land something like that on the open market if the Flames don’t cave.

          That’s the source of my fear. Jokinen is a decent mid-level NHLer at this point, but he’s turning 34 soon and his great season this year has a faint whiff of luck to it. He’s a guy I can see falling off the map in a few seasons so I wouldn’t want to be the team paying him $3-4M as a 36 or 37 year old.

          So I think the two sides will tango for a bit.

  • Here’s a thought on Jokinen (I’d prefer to trade him & even consider signing him July 1st again, but…):

    What if they settled on a long-term deal to keep the cap hit down — say 3.5/3/2.5/1.75/1.25? That’s a $2.4M cap hit. He’s still under 35, so that’s not an issue. It’s basically $9M over 3 yrs. The first 3 yrs could contain some form of NTC/NMC, but the last 2 yrs CANNOT. This way, you have some assurance that you could bury him in yr 4 or 5 or more likely, that he could return to Finland to play.

    Thoughts?

    • Subversive

      I’d like to see the trade and resign situation happen, but with a NMC clause I don’t know if Jokinen will want to be away from family for 2-3 months like he was in 2010 when Darryl basically did that same scenario…not that we got anything of value for him from NYR.

      As Kent pointed out, Jokinen will want a 3+ year contract and most likely will want another NMC/NTC if he can get it. He’s already making $3 million and I don’t know if he’s willing to take a discount to resign or not. As to his value in another 2-3 years, I think the chance of being able to trade him away at that time for something worthwhile is minimal. Of course, I wasn’t expecting to get a decent prospet for Morrison.

  • wawful

    I was under the impression that Jokinen didn’t like the pressure of having a big contract in his first stint as a Flame. That contract, plus his lackluster performance that season, made him the club’s biggest goat and the media’s favorite whipping boy. It’s his improved performance at a more reasonable pay level has won a lot of fans over this season.

    Given this history and that he’s embraced a second line role, perhaps he’ll settle for a reasonable second-line salary. Only time will tell I suppose. Whether he’s been lucky this season or not, I think he’s worth signing for a few years if he’ll work for second line pay.

    • Even if he settles for second line pay, keep in mind Jokinen is a very poor bet to be a top-6 quality player for much longer. He’s just kind of there now and he isn’t going to improve at ages 34, 35, 36, etc.

      The only way I’d sign Jokinen for more than a year is if he took a nice discount from his current salary. That’s just me though – not sure how the Flames feel.

      • RKD

        My thoughts as well.3 year term max & maybe a deal structured like 3.5mill 1st year & 2.0 mill in the 2nd & 3rd years. Limited NMC would be the most I would give him. Next few years I see him as a solid 3rd line centre with ability to play 2nd line in case of injuries.
        Ideally, would love to see a Joker/Hannan or Sarich package going to Chicago for a 1st & Mark Macneil. Chicago looks desperate to me & they should be. They remind me of the meltdown we had a few years ago.

  • You would need to incentivise him to leave at this trade deadline. Tell him in the summer he can come back on a 2-3 year deal, or tell him we can resign him now for the 1-2 year options.

  • RKD

    Good signing, Smith has been a bright spot on this team and gives us the depth we need.

    He will play more of an important role as I doubt Sarich and Babchuck will be back next season and I’m 50/50 on Hannan.

    Jokinen is second on this team for points, I doubt he would take a large discount. I also doubt he gets traded unless the Flames really slide.

  • RexLibris

    Yeah, I was kind of thinking Jokinen might want a four-year deal that averages out in the $3 million range with an early NTC that expires in the last year of his contract.

    I think that, at his current performance level, if Jokinen were your third-line centre that would be a good roster. At 34, 35 and perhaps even 36 he may be able to maintain some of his current level of play. His career has been largely free of serious injury, if I recall correctly, though I agree with Kent that an aging Jokinen signed to a large contract into his waning years is not that good an idea for the franchise.

    Cost and contract length aside, a centre depth chart that ran Carter, Backlund, Jokinen as your top three would be a fairly decent lineup. Wingers might begin to be a focus for the team instead of centres and they can be a lot more easily had either in trade or free agency.

    James Van Reimsdyk was rumoured to have been available prior to his concussion. Are there any thoughts or opinions here as to whether that might be a player that Feaster would be advised to pursue?

  • Graham

    If Backlund had progressed into a workable #2
    this year, it would have given the Flames some options when it comes to Jokinen. As it is, Jokinen is by far the best center we have, and the drop of to Jones, Backlund and Stajan is dramatic.

    The UFA crop looks pretty weak when it comes to #1 or #2 centers next year, so that has to increase Jokinens value. Unless we can trade for a top 6 center, Feaster has limited alternatives, and resigning Jokinen might be in the cards.

    • Graham

      Yup, which is why given the ‘win now’ mentality that ownership is enforcing for this season and I’ll guarantee next season as well, the Flames pretty much have to go out and get Carter.

      • RexLibris

        Our buddy Eckland has Carter going to Calgary today as an E3, meaning a couple of beer drinking buddies agree it could be possible. So assuming Feaster did sell some of his soul to get Carter, I dont think the need to resign Joker would be as important.

  • Graham

    @Kent, I agree, PLEASE DONT RESIGN JOKINEN! Sure he’s had a decent season so far. He’s projected to have 63 points this year, just above his average over the past few years. He had a good start but has slowed significantly in past month or so. The guy is getting older and a “loser” rarely in the playoffs and not a big game preformer.

  • thymebalm

    I have to jump in and defend Jokinen here. There is no reason to let a player of his calibre slip through the cracks. We need to retain talent, and Jokinen is a better-than-good 2-way center. He’s already a steal at 3mil, and he wants to stay. He has an awesome attitude, a sense of humor, and a rocket of a shot.

    If we ever want to have a heavy-minutes 2nd line to give Jarome the easy pickin’s, we’ll need a player just like Jokinen, only they’ll cost more. If he’s traded for someone younger, sure, but to let him just slip away seems like the opposite of competing.