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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  • 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.

  • DKramer

    I am just as scared as the majority in the comments. But on a really bad Arizona team he did have a better save % than Elliot. And Smith is a fantastic pick handler. Aquisition cost I think was a bit much. Would have been nice for it to be a third with no conditions. But who knows what the market was like. At least we have our guy now. Just please fill the back up spot with a prospect of ours.

  • jakethesnail

    Hey, Smith has a lifetime 15-3-1 record against the oilcans up North! And with Arizona retaining 1/4 of his salary, it makes his cap hit at 4.25 million…..those other guys which some of you claim were better would have cost more.

  • Just.Visiting

    My reaction was pretty negative at first. I was unhappy to see Hickey go, as I think he could have been a nice fit for us on the D line, as he offers a nice balance between offence and defence that is lacking in some of our other top D prospects. But, as noted elsewhere, it looks like he didn’t plan to sign here after we were unable to get him signed this spring. I also think that Smith’s best years are behind him, such that the retention of salary mitigates risk somewhat in at least the financial sense. The flip side is that he’s playing on a much more competitive team in a hockey market, so that could be quite motivating after spending your entire career in Dallas, Tampa Bay and Arizona. The third round pick was neither here nor there to me, as few players from the third round ultimately make a significant impact (yes, I know there are always exceptions), and I hope there’s some fine print that Smith has to be available to play a certain threshold number of games for the second round pick to kick in (i.e., no big injuries that keep him out for extended periods). On reflection, Smith is very competitive, is a pro, the contract is up in two years and he should be able to give us serviceable goaltending while we see what the prospects can offer in a backup role and the degree to which they can take on a greater share of the workload in the 2018-2019 season when we are attempting to position ourselves to be a more serious contender. At the end of the day, I’m just happy that we didn’t damage fill a hole by creating another big hole on the roster by running out and getting someone with his own share of risks. Welcome to the Flames, Mike.

    • everton fc

      We have plenty of goalie prospects to land one of Grubauer or Raanta. Personally, I’d like to see Rittich up here as the full-time backup next season, but if Smith goes down, Grubauer would be the most likely to keep things going in the right direction.

      I get this feeling we may see another goalie here soon enough. If they do pickup another goalie, you expose Smith, knowing he probably won’t get picked.

      • freethe flames

        The lists are already in. One other positive I just thought of; it’s not MAF costing us a first rounder as was rumored last year. Imagine the future W/O Tkachuk!! Let that sink in. Do I love this trade? No. Am I prepared to wait and see? Yes. But BT has a lot of work still to do.

  • deantheraven

    I would have preferred not giving up any assets and keeping Johnson to play with Rittich next year as a tandem. Unless Smith is going to be the next goalie coach I see no future here for him.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • smatic10

    Don’t like giving up a second (if we make the playoffs). It seems like Hickey was not interested in signing (just assuming of course), so losing him isn’t the end of the world. I’m fine with Smith, he’s a proven starter. I wouldn’t be worried about his age, he plays a fiery/active game. What I really want to see is homegrown talent starting to play NHL games for us. Any combination of Rittich/Gillies/Parsons need to be our starter/backups in the near future. There will be growing pains, but if we want to move forward as an organization, we have to graduate our goalie prospects.

  • Jobu

    Well… looks like Hickey was unlikely to sign here too many D to leap over on the charts. Hell get his chance at a top 4 spot in Arizona. I hope the Flames can learn to make deals with OTHER NHL franchises someday…

  • freethe flames

    Good news and bad news. Good news it sounds like we won’t have either of the duo from last year back(the third rounder is what we would have had to give St L if we resigned him), good news is that it would now seem likely that one of the kids might be given the chance to be the back up. The bad news is we are overpaying for a 35 year old goalie. For me it’s a strange message to send to the fan base and the team. Only time will tell if this is a good decision.

    Now we need to see what BT does to address the wholes on the D and if there is enough money and assets left over to upgrade the top 9. @22m -4.5= $17.m to find a back up, resign Bennett/Ferland/Lazar, and find a #4 and #5 defender. Here’s hoping that the kids have had a good off season of training: Kulak, Andersson( I hope he got the message), Janko, Lazar, Shinkaruk, Klimchuk, Poirier and Mangiapane all need to push the pile.

  • NastyOleBuzzard

    I like this deal. No, I don’t expect him to lead the Calgary Flames to the glory land. The club may not even make the playoffs next year. But Mike Smith is a savvy veteran and the ideal tutor for Jon Gillies. Both are tall goaltenders and will have the same issues. And Smith can teach Gillies a lot regarding puck handling. I see this trade as being more to do with developing Gillies than it is about winning the Stanley Cup next season.

    • everton fc

      He can also teach Rittich “The Ropes”, as Rittich is the more ready than Gillies, to step in up here.

      As for adding another goalie, perhaps one of Grubauer or Raanta in a deal with one of Rittich or Gillies going the other way?

  • freethe flames

    At $4.25m there is still room to add another goalie but I am doubtful we now have the assets. I good with going with Ritich/Gilles swapping as the back up but if something happens to Smith I’m concerned. Now that it is done I now want to see what BT gets done with the dcore; I wonder if there is anyone that LV might be willing to flip to the Flames?

  • Hacker

    This is a good trade. With Coyotes picking up 25% salary, Smith is cheap and he is a legit number 1. Ability to play a ton. Better numbers than Elliot. Certainly on the downside of his career but if he provides league average goaltending this is a great bridge tender until our young guys are ready. I just hope to hell they give one of the kids a chance to back-up.

    • everton fc

      Or… we move Rittich (or Gillies) for Grubauer or Raanta. Or, we simply play Rittich, who I think will be an NHL goalie for a long time…

      Or, Johnson doesn’t sign w/Phoenix, and re-signs here. Smith/Johnson? I’d rather see Smith/Rittich, or Smith/Grubauer, or Smith/Raanta. Any of the latter two tandems could still be in the cards for Calgary. If Johnson doesn’t sign in Phoenix , we lost a 2nd for Smith. We’ll make the playoffs next year, so we lose a 2nd. That, to me, is the trade here.

      BT’s link to the Coyotes is why this happened. Which scares me a little…

  • Greg

    As bad as the rush of exiting draft picks has been, the flames did accumulate extras in previous seasons and converted those into long term assets (Hamilton, kylington, Lazar). Hopefully they can finish plugging the holes and get to a more sustainable trend soon, but for now I guess it’s been manageable.

  • Fan the Flames

    I think Parsons is the future he will get next year in Stockton and the following year playing with Smith and I hope he can steal the net because he is a proven winner in Jr and World Jr .

  • jakethesnail

    For those that think Smith is old: (From Darren Haynes: The Flames From 80 feet)
    “Smith just turned 35 so he’ll be 36 during the final season of his deal. Looking to put his age into context, here are some names you’ll know.
    Older than him:
    Ryan Miller
    Craig Anderson
    Henrik Lundqvist

    Younger but within a year:
    Pekka Rinne

    For a local spin, Smith will be a little younger in his final year than Kiprusoff was in his final season with Calgary in 2012-13.”