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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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  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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”!!

  • 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!