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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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    • 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.

  • 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.

    • Puckhead

      You’ve enlisted the help of witches? Good thinking. They should have contests where people try to pick them out of the crowd. That would be next to impossible.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • Tombstone

    You forget that the goalie that you had last year where still able to get the team into playoffs but the team still went up against a team that always gave CGY trouble. With the Defence CGY has mike smith should be a good fit. Just try and stay away from the ducks come playoffs.

  • HOFer_dirty30

    Was Smith my first choice? No. But can he be a solid stop gap? Absolutely. I have faith in bt still, I’m sure the rangers and Washington were asking alot. 4.25mil + plus a d prospect that was leaving + 2/3 pick + a backup goalie holding up are goalie pipeline is a steal! Just need that #4 dman and this is a successful off-season in my books with the potential to a great one

  • 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”!!

  • 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.