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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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  • Scary Gary

    I actually don’t mind Mike Smith but he’s 35, to give up a second round pick (we’re making the playoffs) plus Hickey seems like an overpay.

    That being said I think he has some hockey left in him, his 0.914 was right on his career average.

    • cberg

      That may be true, but we have no idea what the market is for other options. Plus we have at least least two primo prospect goalies and Smith fits perfectly with bringing them along.

        • Kevin R

          It’s only a 2nd if he performs & we make the playoffs. If we fast forward to next April & he performs well & we are a playoff team is anyone going to get crabby that we had to upgrade the 3rd rounder we would have spent resigning Elliott to a 2nd. It’s a bridge. A bridge is a bridge is a bridge.

  • 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.

  • Trevy

    Wow…here comes all the knee jerk reaction negativity! Sound like a bunch of Oiler whiners! Don’t you think Treliving did his due diligence to inquire about every available goaltender out there? I’ll bet anything that the prices for Raanta or Grubauer would of been Gillies or Riitch plus and that would be for an unproven starter. If that were consummated, then all of you would of been whining that the price was too steep to pay. Elliott’s stats in previous years were behind a St Louis defense, Mike Smith, behind a pathetic Arizona team. Bottom line, what did we give up, its 2 more years at 4.25 mill plus Johnson, who we can resign still, Hickey who may not of signed and a 3rd that could turn to a 2nd if we make the playoffs. If we do, that’ll be in part to Smith’s performance to get them there! I don’t blame Treliving, why over pay for a unknown commodity. This is a great stop gap, give it time before you all judge. It’s like hearing the Gulutzan haters all over again until he got this team into the playoffs!

    • Aadvarkian Abakeneezer

      It’s true, and being someone who vomited in my mouth at the mention of this trade I do think there’s a good chance we’re all hailing Tre as a genius this time next year.

      Gotta correct you on Johnson though, we just traded him to Arizona. That’s ok though because hopefully it means Gilles and Rittich get their shots.

  • The Sultan

    The fact of the matter is Mike Smith is a good goalie and is highly-lauded around the league for being so. As some posters have mentioned before me, he’s been a consistent, starting goaltender and has been for the last number of years. He’s put up respectable numbers on not so respectable iterations of the Coyotes, and many nights has not only held them in games as their best player, but stolen games outright — something the Flames have been sorely lacking for a long time, that is, a proven goaltender who can come in and steal games once in a while.

    Yes, Mike Smith is a stop gap, and rightfully so; in order for this team to take the next step they need to start building through the draft and that includes players at every position including goaltenders. For the first time in a long time the Flames have a good goalie prospects in Gillies, Rittich (if he resigns), and Parsons. One of these guys is the future and that future is coming up very soon. Mike Smith is the probably the perfect mentor and this all but confirms a Smith/Gillies combo for next season.

    Stanley Cup teams these days are built from the ground up. You don’t just go out and trade for Carey Price in the off-season as I believe I’d read at some point on here over the last several days. We’re not asking Mike Smith to put this team on his back and carry us through the season as he did for about the last six or seven years with the Coyotes. We’re just asking a guy to come in and stop the damn puck when it matters, something Elliot or Johnson couldn’t do.

    • Nighteyes

      Very well said, I agree. Its only two years and Smith has proven himself. He’s old but I think age matters less for goaltenders given that the position requires less attrition than a defensemen for example. Having a proven starter will also help whatever goalie prospect of ours makes the team develop as a back up.

    • Lucky 13

      Interesting that Smith was chosen at the All Star game ?
      You made valid and sensible comments, that’s appreciated.

      Imagine what this will do for Smith? He’s been playing on a sh** squad and being peppered with 40-50 shots and no chance of making postseason. From what I’ve been reading he’s ecstatic about coming here.
      I say this rejuvenates him and gives him hope, plus having a veteran like him will have a great impact on our younger goalies!

      I like it

  • 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…

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I liked the idea of Smith being our starter for awhile now. I did not want a tweeter like Raanta or Grubauer since neither had been starters. I like the fact that we don’t lose any current keepers.

    In fact this is a better scenario on 2 fronts: it provides a stopgap and allows Smith to mentor Gillies or Rittich as a back up. I can only think that lots of teams were sniffing around Smith. Also, I am fine with giving up the rights to Hickey since I believe he was given a legit chance to crack the Flames this year and chose to go back to school. I think he saw that we have good depth and was not going to sign. I like Johnson, but if he is your starter your team is in trouble.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Skylardog

    Hate to say it, but this one closes the book on BT for me. I was thinking he was doing ok, not great, but ok. My faith in his capability is now destroyed.

    Ad many of you know I am not a GG fan. you can now add BT to that list as well. Its a shame, we have such a great core.

    • Lucky 13

      I’m sorry you feel that way, however if we make postseason again (which we will) you can most certainly say Smith did exactly what was asked of him!

      So you don’t like GG, Gaudreau and now Treliving? Got it

      We have a great core, now we can add Smith to this… I’m more of a positive type guy and I’m not unhappy with Smith as our starter… but that’s just me

  • flamesburn89

    At 35 years old, there is a chance that Smith’s play falls off a cliff over these next 2 years. His track record is average at best, as he only has 1 season of over .920 sv% play in the NHL. I do not like this deal at all, as I’m not convinced Smith is an upgrade on Elliot. Time will tell, but I think there is a better than even chance that the Flames are once again looking for a goalie this time next year.

  • snotss

    this will blow up in the flames faces just as it did last year…another stop gap move…better goalies are available but the brass seem to want the band aid fix…they will be in the exact same position this time next year!!!!!!poor management again…fix the goalie problem…this deal doesn’t even begin to fix the problem

    • whysoserious

      I am relieved that Treliving did not go after the goalie names most on this site were advocating and giving up high or potentially high level players as a result. i.e. Bennett, Ferland etc. We have a goalie jam of developing goalie prospects that we need to see what we have before we lose them outright. So many are complaining that we are not giving our prospects a chance yet but when management gives us a preview of that coming to fruition, it sounds like a baby ward. Smith would be an excellent mentor for our up and comers, just the puck handling alone will be worth the price we just paid. I was so frustrated last year when our goalies had a hard time stopping dump ins and consequently our D would have to go deep to start our break outs from deep in our end or get driven into the boards by hard driving opposition forwards. You know who benefits significantly from this move? Johnny Hockey, as now he can legitimately go to offense way sooner because the puck will likely out of our zone that much quicker. Folks, this is going to be fun to watch!

  • everton fc

    A few things…

    First, Smith is durable. Why people think he’s injury prone…???

    Second, Smith is better than Raanta at the moment, or Raanta would be a starter. He’s also better than Elliott. And Johnson. He’s “level” w/Fleury. And probably level w/Mason. His lack of recent playoff experience is a concern, though.

    Third, the Coyotes ate salary.

    But;

    A second next year is a steep price, in my opinion. Unless the Flames intend to flip him??

    Smith’s been > .904 pct. on some really bad Coyote teams. He’s used to seeing (and stopping) lots of rubber. If we get a decent #4 defender, and have a 5/6 w/two of Kulak/Andersson/Stone, Smith will do well here. If Rittich is the backup, and he does well, who knows – Rittich may be a starter down the road. Patience fans. We could have done much worse, though the trading of picks of late worries me.

    Look, BT was with the Coyotes. He’s got that connection, which is why we have Stone (and Don Maloney). Johnson’s no big loss. Smith/Rittich, or Smith/Gillies would be a nice combo – I lean towards the former, versus the latter tandem. And who knows, perhaps they reel in Raanta for Rittich (I don’t think they’ll move Gillies, but you never know).

  • 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?

    • everton fc

      Hickey wasn’t signing here. So he’s no loss. The 2nd is indeed a head-scratcher, though – again, we seem to be willing to move picks way too often these days…

      • supra steve

        When you are re-building/tanking, you trade away players for picks, like they did with GlenX, Hudler, etc. When you can add skilled youth, like with Hamilton, you can easily justify moving picks. When you are a playoff team looking to become a contender, moving draft picks for useful pieces is perfectly acceptable. I hope Smith does cost Tre his second next season, and leads the Flames into a playoff round win or four. Do I know this was the right/best move available?…no. Do I think that Tre is an idiot, and would make the worst trade offered to him?…no. Let’s wait and see how the rest of the off season unfolds.

  • 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…

  • 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.