The Calgary Flames have been searching for stability in net ever since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013. They’ve tried many, many players in net. Faced with more question marks in net, the Flames may have acquired a whole new set of question marks in the form of their new number one goaltender.
According to multiple sources, the Flames have acquired netminder Mike Smith from the Arizona Coyotes for pending unrestricted free agent Chad Johnson, unsigned college prospect Brandon Hickey and a conditional third round draft pick in 2018 (it becomes a second if the Flames make the playoffs). As part of the deal, Arizona will retain 25% of Smith’s salary which would put his cap hit for the next two seasons at $4.25 million.
Smith, 35, is both a known quantity and an enigma, as Ari detailed early today. He’s been both very good and very bad for Arizona, to the point where they seem content to go with Louis Domingue as their top netminder for the next while as the team rebuilds yet again – though they’re also in the market for an upgrade. He’s signed for the next two seasons, so presumably the idea is to bridge to one (or both) of Jon Gillies or Tyler Parsons as the next “goalie of the future.” Given his cap hit, presumably this opens the door to Gillies or David Rittich vying for the back-up job in the fall.
Johnson, 31, was a very good back-up for the Flames last season but presumably was hoping to be a starter (which probably wasn’t going to happen in Calgary next season). He can be protected by Arizona without signing a contract, but would need to have a deal in place for the Coyotes to expose him.
Hickey, 21, is headed back to Boston University to be the team’s captain. Given he’s going to be a senior, and that he could become an unrestricted free agent following his senior year, presumably the Flames felt they’d rather get something back for him rather than losing him to free agency for nothing. The fact that Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, Brett Kulak and Adam Fox are all performing well in the system probably made the move easier for the club.
The deal boils down to two players that probably were going to walk at some point in the near-future and a third round pick for a goalie that can play a lot, but is old, expensive and may fall off a cliff in the near-future. It’s definitely a gamble.