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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames acquire Mike Smith from Arizona Coyotes

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.

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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.

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    • Jobu

      We needed a proven goalie to hold the fort while our young stars grow into a starters role. We got exactly what we needed. Don’t forget, this guy single handedly brought a garbage team into the western final only a few years back… Give him a chance people!

  • Lets Get Something Clear

    The organization must have been really done with Elliott for them to give up more than the pick and salary it would have cost them to resign him for an older goaltender.

  • Newbietwo

    So let me get this right.. so far the flames have given up most likely two second round picks plus a pick for Johnson for goaltenders plus hickey in the last two years.. that is a very high acquisition cost..

    Now what could we have gotten for two second rounders and a prospect goalie wise? Hmm don’t we wonder “basically most of them”!!

  • McRib

    I don’t love it, but Tyler Parsons is the real deal. He’ll be our starter by the end of 2018-2019 at the latest (future star goalies actually emerge sooner than most expect). Jon Gillies also deserves a look before then.

    Brandon Hickey wasn’t going to sign with us at the end of the year, as he knows he has been passed on the depth chart by Fox, Anderson, Kylington. So essentially it is for a second rounder, worse case.

    • Kevin R

      Yup, Vegas has really complicated & elevated the price for Raanta or Grubauer. There are other teams that want a high end cheap backup, including Chicago. Tre probably got fed up with having to negotiate & be extorted by a middle man (McPhee) & did a deal that was acceptable to him. I too believe Hickey has communicated to Tre about his intention to try the market, so we were losing him anyway. Rights to Johnson, so what. If we signed Elliott, this deal is a wash unless Smith plays like he did for Arizona this year & the guy is capable of carrying us deep if the stars align. I’m not that disappointed in truth.

  • kipper2004

    It will all work out. Looks like the market was too high for the younger goalie options. Basically a 3rd rounder for smith are a reduced cap cost. Hickey looked to be playing the free agent card and cash in like Vessey and Schultz.

  • Legend of Weevil

    This is a terrible deal. This offseason was Calgarys best chance at getting a legitimate starting goaltender. Fleury, Mason,Bishop, Ranta were all available. Instead Calgary goes for the oldest, most prone to injury and most inconsistent goalie they can find

    • Franko J

      I stand corrected. Like you Puckhead I was thinking the Flames were giving up a second rounder next year, don’t worry if Smith is the starter next season the Flames will be competing in the draft lottery.

    • McRib

      2016-2017 Save Percentages. Antti Raanta 0.922, Mike Smith 0.914, Ben Bishop 0.910, MA Fleury 0.909, Steve Mason 0.908.

      Outside of Raanta who played in a cushy backup position on a much much better team Smith. Smith out performed every single one of the goaltenders you mention last year on a basement dweller.

      • McRib

        “most prone to injury”

        When has Mike Smith been injured? He has played in more than 30 GP in last six NHL season. Once again I don’t love this trade, but come on now let’s act reasonably.

        • McRib

          NYR was still miles better than Arizona, even if they were vastly overrated (Raanta has never played more than 30 GP in a year in his career, who knows what he does with tougher workload).

          In my own defenseman I was on here earlier this week saying that I wanted Raanta above everyone else, but Smith was better last year than every other goaltender on the market this summer (Steve Mason is laughable, Philly was a legit team with even decent goaltending).

          I don’t love this move, but who knows what the asking price was on Raanta, it could have been insanity high. Smith is more than capable of getting us into the playoffs, something Elliot did with only a 0.910 last year and by the end of next year Rittich, Gillies and Parsons could both be ready for prime time.

        • McRib

          In three of the last four years Mike Smith has been a 0.915. He had a bad year in 2014-2015 (still better than Steve Mason last year), which would really scew that three year total. Arizona was the second worst team in the league that season and didn’t have a single player hit 50 points.

      • Skylardog

        Lets not for get Anders Nilsson – UFA, 23 starts, 10 wins, 10 losses and a .923 on Buffalo. And only 27 years old. Offer him $3.0 for 2 and he signs with us for $1.5 less than Smith.

        Smith has had nagging injuries the last few years, only played 32 games in 2015/16, or missed about half the season. If I remember it has been his groin, the injury older goalies seem to suffer from.

  • Puckhead

    Giving up the 2nd rounder is what leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. We are short on picks this year and now we’re dipping into next years draft bucket. Hope we make a couple moves to recoup some picks.

  • Derzie

    Buyer’s market for Calgary and this is what we get. Tell me again how Tre is doing a good job? We give up more assets for a goalie at the end of the line and a clause to have us punished for making the playoffs next year. Problem will be revisited next year.

    • Kevin R

      How about a little more positive story line that Smith has a great year, we head to the playoffs & Gilles & Riitch get some good NHL starts alternating back & forth from Stockton while Parsons & gets his pro feet wet with Gilles & Riitch alternating down on the farm. Next year will be Smith getting less starts & one of our young guys getting more & Pasons getting his last year of seasoning before challenging Riitch or Gilles for the #1 in 2019?

      • Lucky 13

        Agreed, even if we’re all skeptical at this point.
        It is almost for sure we see one of our AHL goalies given a backup role, given what Tre gave up for Smith.

        Also .. think of this.. if you’re the opposition, would you want to crash Smiths crease? Heaven help the player who gets in his blue paint! He’ll probably run anyone that gets in his face.. good ole fashioned Hextall crazies in him.
        We have solved our Ducks curse, Smith will absolutely hack the crap outta Perry and Kessler.

  • The GREAT WW

    Ladies and gentlemen; This concludes the 2014 draft fiasco;
    Mason McDonald, Hunter Smith, Brandon Hickey, Brandon Bollig…..all gone for nothing.
    Sure hope this Bennett kid turns into something…

    WW

  • JoelOttosJock

    So is Tre going to take all the Coyotes garbage? Stone..now Smith..what is next..Doan? Terrible trade. I dont mind losing the pick or Hickey but it is eho we got. I really hope that Tre looks like a genius this time next year..doubtful..but here is hoping

  • Greg

    BT did say it’d be nice to not have “find a goalie” on the todo list for one offseason. He did accomplish that for next year.

    The todo list might be “dump bad goalie contract” instead, but change is good at least.

  • TurkeyLips

    Don’t get the reflexive apprehension about this trade. Smith is a proven starter and one of the top 3 players on the Coyotes. Arizona’s rightfully earned a reputation as a crap team which can steal points against tough opposition, they’ve always punched above their weight and Smith was a big part of that. He’s big and plays as such, like a defenseman in his own crease, also possessing strong puck moving skills.

    All these factors are things our past netminders always sorely lacked – especially puck movement – this was apparent in so many Flames games last season where D-men just couldn’t trust our goalie to make a quick + crisp outlet pass. Those kinds of unnecessary inefficiencies really compromised our transition game, making it far easier for the opposing team to set up a defensive trap. Elliot + Johnson both enabled this to a painful degree.

    The influence of age is also being blown out of proportion. Goalies are the position least compromised by high age, it’s a position suited to the greater relative endurance of late 20’s early 30’s athletes (marathon runners reach prime shape in their 30’s). But most importantly, Smith has years of starting experience and his mental fortitude is undoubtedly inline with that. Elliot will know his place and hopefully also mentally settle into his old form as a result.

    All in all, a sound trade. We have a starting goaltender. Yes he’s old but we’re using him for two years and with retained salary. Any unproven backup trade target would’ve remained just that – unproven. Why take the risk when we have decent goalie prospects? My only concern is now we seemingly have to give up another 3rd to retain Elliot, which makes this goalie trade ordeal anything but cheap. Then again, Treliving’s leverage for such a trade was always going to be weak. It’s an important position and short of Smith falling off a cliff in performance – exactly what starters are meant to avoid – our goaltending should be stronger than it’s been in years. Let’s hope that pans out.

        • supra steve

          As near as I can figure, you can only trade a single asset once. That third (2018) was to go to St Louis if Elliott was re-signed by the Flames. They have now traded that same third round pick for Smith…so cannot sign Elliott any longer. Rittich is the likely backup to start the season.

          • TurkeyLips

            I see, this makes sense. Elliott showed himself unworthy of even a 3rd after his show-me contract, with a new family and all, that’s unfortunate for him but I digress. Using that asset with sweeteners to leverage a move for Smith is a shrewd upgrade by Tre. The likelihood of Johnson coming back as UFA then seems probable, if he’s available again it’ll be interesting to see if management chooses him or puts faith in Gillies/Rittich for the backup position.

          • Kevin R

            The nice thing is that Gilles & Riitch will be waiver exempt & we can shuffle both up & down to get NHL starts & make sure the young backup gets some AHL starts. I wonder if this opens the door for Parsons to starting in Stockton instead of the ECHL.

  • Nighteyes

    He put up pretty decent numbers for a team thats been bad for a while. Might not be the end of the world, only 2 years left on his contract. Plus the back-up position is still available and depending on who gets it, they could end up playing quite a bit.

  • MontanaMan

    Not sure on the value, but Smith is an upgrade on both Elliott and Johnson. I would have tried to resign Elliott but maybe the price was too high, Elliott wanted out or most likely, he had lost the confidence of the coaching staff and team. Johnson is a career back up and is good for 20 games max. His dream of being a number one is a joke. Smith’s numbers aren’t great but remember he played behind an absolute joke for a team so given that, his numbers are decent. It’s tough to judge this trade without knowing who else the Flames went after and what the negotiations looked like but for now, I’m looking forward to seeing him in the net.