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FN Mailbag – June 19, 2017

So the Flames found their goaltender.

Mike Smith was both the oldest and most established guy available on the market. With Marc-Andre Fleury likely being moved to Vegas and Ben Bishop landing in Dallas, Brad Treliving had his choice between a handful of younger or less established netminders like Antti Raanta, Philipp Grubauer, and Calvin Pickard. Instead, he went with the devil he knows in 35-year-old Smith.

Here’s the good news. Despite his age, Smith had an excellent season last year. He played behind a dreadful team, got peppered with quality shots, but still finished with a .924 even strength save percentage (about seven points higher than Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson). Smith is also a proven starter having been Arizona’s number one option for years.

The bad news is obvious: Smith is an aging stopgap measure. There’s real risk that his performance falls off a cliff over the next two seasons and his contract (even with a reduced cap hit) will become a burden if that happens. The only hope for Calgary if that happens is one of their kids steps in and takes over while still playing on a cheap contract.

One thing to remember in analyzing the trade is the market Treliving was operating in is opaque to us. We know, roughly, what goalies were available but not the prices being asked nor the probability of the player coming to Calgary or sticking around if acquired. As such, there’s a chance the Flames options were much more limited than what seemed apparently available on the surface.

With that in mind, we take a closer look at the Smith addition, with some bonus material on Calgary’s options on the blueline.

There is. The Coyotes were a lottery team for a reason. They gave up a lot of shots and a lot of quality shots. Dave Tippett has been known to be a defensively capable coach in the past, but he can only work with what he has on the ice.

Here’s Smith’s SAVE Chart, which shows his save rates for low, medium, and high danger shots last year. I have included a comparison to Raanta for context.

As you can see, Smith posted a well above average HD save rate in 2016-17 and much better than average expected goals saved above average (xGSAA/60). At the bottom of the chart, you can also see he faced a higher proportion of HD shots than Raanta (8.45 HD/60 vs 6.25 HD/60).

Reminder: Brian Elliott posted a similarly great season prior to landing in Calgary, albeit on a better team.

The $4.25M question. Smith had a very good 2016-17, but we need to look deeper to really get a feel for the player. Here’s a set of charts from Cole Anderson (@CrowdScoutSprts) comparing Smith, Elliott, and Johnson over the last three years in terms of expected minus actual goals:

This look is less encouraging.

Another thing you hear a lot about Smith is his inconsistency. Close observers of goaltenders note that Smith can be spectacular in short stretches and awful in others. For example:

Nick is a goalie scout and pioneer in advanced stats based analysis for netminders. He was not at all supportive of the Smith trade because of the player’s age, injury history, and inconsistency. A look at Smith’s career progression supports this assertion:

Big bounces between above average and below average adjusted save percentage. So the big question for the Flames (outside of a possible age-related regression) is: which Mike Smith will they get over the next two seasons?

Attempts have been made to quantify the impact of puckhandling on shots against or save rate, with little success. In 2012, Eric Tulsky of the Carolina Hurricanes found that Martin Brodeur seemed to see less shots against than his backups, suggesting a potential impact of his superior puckhandling skills. However, looking at other puckhandling goalies, including Smith, Tulsky didn’t find any relative impact.

The reason for a muted effect on things like shots or saves is obvious: there are too many other, more important variables to account for, including strength of team, strength of opponent, difficulty of schedule, distribution of powerplays and penalty kills and good ol’ everyday randomness. Of course, the NHL also acted to restrict puckhandling goalies when they added the trapezoid behind the net, further suppressing any potential influence they might have.

Short version: there is probably a positive effect, but it gets swamped by other factors.

There’s maybe two areas in the org that are relative strengths: defensive and goalie prospect depth.

At the NHL level, the Flames are lackluster at both of these positions, but beneath the surface, they have more than a few assets. In goal, Calgary has David Rittich, Jon Gillies, and Tyler Parsons. Rittich’s turn as the better AHL goaltender for Stockton last season puts him in this conversation, while Parsons’ second straight year as one of the best junior goalies in the world places him as the club’s best prospect in net.

Gillies is still a quality prospect, but things are starting to getting crowded. If one of the hopefuls doesn’t make the leap to at least a backup in the show this year, the Flames will have to somehow manage to get pro starts for Rittich, Gillies, Parsons, Tom McCollum, and Mason MacDonald (Nick Schneider is returning to junior).

On the blueline the Flames are desperate for quality depth for positions four through six. In the AHL and beyond, however, they have a pretty good collection of talent. Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Brett Kulak, Brandon Hickey, Tyler Wotherspoon (if they re-sign him), Adam Ollas-Mattsson, Stepan Falkovsky and Adam Fox give the org more than a few guys who could turn into everyday NHLers one day.

Calgary’s defensive prospects are more staggered than their goalies so there’s less concern about crowding. Still, if the Flames have to dip into the prospect pool to engineer a deal this summer, it’s likely they’ll be drawing from their defensive well.

Simon Despres is an interesting case because he was definitely a quality top four defender before his injury problems. The question is just how bad those issues are and if he can still be a functional NHL player. Sometimes guys can come back from serious concussion challenges, but sometimes their career is forever altered.

The problem here is Despres isn’t suffering from just one incident, but three major head injuries over the course of just 18 months. He has only appeared in 33 NHL since 2015-16 as a result. In fact, Despres missed all but one game of the 2016-17 season and never really appeared close to a return, even though the Ducks lasted well into the playoffs.

Which means it’s an open question of whether Despres will ever play hockey again at this point.

It’s worth calling Despres’ agent just in case, but leaping back into the NHL as a top four defender seems unlikely right now.

Nikita Nesterov is a more realistic target than Despres. He has put up pretty good even strength scoring rates in the NHL in a support role through 132 games and is just 24 years old. Of course, he’s also just 5’11”, 191 pounds and renowned for being defensively suspect as well.

Meaning he’s more likely to bump a guy like Matt Bartkowski from the lineup than anything else. Might be a good insurance signing if Kulak gets scooped by Vegas, however.

I believe Jonas Brodin is only available thanks to the impending expansion draft, so probably nothing. That said, even if Vegas takes the player and puts him on the market, I’m not sure I’d be very interested in him.

Brodin has had a very strange start to his career. He seemed to leap fully formed as a top pairing defender into the show in 2012-13, putting up way above average underlying numbers in his first 45 NHL games.

It’s been a pretty steady downhill slide since. You can see it in the player’s progression graph here:

Brodin HERO chart

As you can see, Brodin is a below average offensive contributor from every angle: goals, assists and shot generation. He’s a decent shot suppression player, but his overall shot impact remains underwhelming.

Brodin makes about $4.2M for the next four years, which is pricey for a guy who seems to be settling into “just okay defensive defenseman” territory.

Very unlikely. I don’t know why Niklas Hjalmarsson’s name is popping up in rumours, but I don’t think the Flames have what it takes to acquire him from Chicago. He is definitely one of the league’s premier shutdown defenders, but I don’t think the Hawks will be giving him away if they actually choose to trade him.

In addition, I’m not sure how eager Cody Franson would be to sign in Calgary as a putative third pairing defender if the team added Hjalmarsson. A big part of the pitch to Franson would likely be the opportunity to play with T.J. Brodie in the Flames’ top four.

This question is moot in the wake of the Mike Smith deal, but we’ll go through the exercise anyways. Cory Schneider is an excellent goalie, but I’d stay away from him for a couple of reasons:

  1. He’s going to cost a lot to acquire. The Devils are entering a rebuild, so they will only want to part with key assets if the return is worth their while. That means the conversation starts with a first round pick and goes up from there.
  2. Schneider’s contract is really unappealing. The player is already 31 years old and his $6M cap hit extends for another five years until 2022. Any sort of step back in terms of performance turns that deal into a toxic asset.

Also, sticking a $6M starter in the crease until 2022 also makes it a tough developmental environment for guys like Gillies and Parsons as well.

Washington certainly has some cap concerns thanks to their need to re-sign RFAs Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brett Connolly, Nate Schmidt and Dimitri Orlov himself. They also need to re-sign or replace Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, Daniel Winnik, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Karl Alzner. Yikes.

If Orlov really is available thanks to his club’s cap crunch, he’d make for an attractive trade target. At 25 years old he’s in the right age range for the Flames’ competitive window. He’s also well above average across the board and was arguably under-utilized by the Caps last year:

Orlov is left-handed, but he’s good enough that sliding Brodie back to the right side shouldn’t be cause for concern. I’m not sure what Washington would want back in return for the player (probably not an NHL contract to be sure), but the Flames should be inquiring.

  • nikkomsgb

    I’m no fan of eric francis, but he is as connected to the flames as anyone…and his article on the Smith trade mentioned NJ wanting Johnny G or Bennett in return for Schneider…. That is both insane and astronomical.

    So we have Smith. Also from listening to Treliving’s interviews post trade, it really seems like didn’t want a goalie who has never been a true #1 and started a 60+ games in a season.

    I really worry about this deal, it’s a lot of faith to have in a guy over 35.

    • Kevin R

      Smith played worldly last year. I saw hi lights of a 2-1 or 1-0 shoot out loss where he stopped 50+ shots & he was furious with the effort of his team, the game should have been 15-0. He brings some elements that no there goalie available brings. It’s 2 years at 4.2mill per. His interview with Patty was good to see, he is certainly an intense dialled in goalie that has a mean streak in him. My biggest disappointment will be if we don’t leave the backup spot for one of Riitch, Gilles or Parsons to win in training camp. If someone is brought in even like Johnson, then I am scratching at this bridge trade, which I see totally as a bridge. I would have thought the same if we had brought in MAF, one of our kids would play backup in that bridge scenario. Give Smith a chance, I think you will be pleasantly surprised next year.

      • The Fall

        Riitch will be in Stockton. He was brought in to stabilize the net while the true prospects figure out professional life.

        NHL: Smith / Gillies
        ANL: Parsons / Riitch

        • everton fc

          I think Rittich will get the nod over Gillies. Gillies needs to prove he can consistently win games and make saves in the “A”. Rittich has not only done this, he’s played two years in the Czech pro-league. He could truly be a diamond found in the tall grass. I think he will be. His demeanor between the pipes during games is very reassuring.

      • Parallex

        You probably should thou… the market for starting goalies is limited and Schneider won’t help NJ. Won’t help in the sense that for the next couple of seasons all he’s going to do is maybe make them just good enough to be stuck in draft purgatory. They’re ideal return should probably be good young goalie + top prospect + pick right now. Sure Gillies plus 1st isn’t quite that… but how often do you get your ideal return on a trade?

  • Rad

    Thanks for a reasoned look at the trade, Kent. Not fired up either way, although Mercad’s reaction certainly gives pause. I think the x-factor is what kind of defender Hickey turns into. If there’s something there, it’s not a great deal.

    Of course, this assumes Smith is able to stop pucks past his 36th birthday, which can be tougher for bigger, older goalies.

    I still have faith that BT did his diligence and that he’s got something in the works. We’ll see how the week plays out.

    • Baalzamon

      I’ll be honest: I didn’t see Hickey ever being a regular for the Flames. And no, I’m not talking about the college free agent loophole nonsense. I just think the Flames had too many better/closer prospects.

      Trading him was the right move. Trading him for Smith… that’s another discussion altogether.

      • jakethesnail

        Hickey was passed on the prospect list of D-men by three others already in our system…so why would he sign here and why would the Flames want him…no brainer his rights were traded.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        I tend to agree with this view of Hickey. I felt he was a trade chip for the Flames, more than a top prospect. Would have been my preference to use him in a deal to get a NHL defenseman or a younger goalie. Whether Smith can provide the Flames with NHL quality starts or not, using our only real expendable asset with value to get a stop-gap goalie makes less sense.

  • Backburner

    The Mike Smith trade is strange to me. BT could have protected Chad Johnson to meet requirements, then waited until the dust settled after the expansion draft to trade for a Goalie, or sign one. It seems hasty.. and I can’t see BT being 100% confident with Smith as the starter. I have my suspicions that there is another move for a Goalie in the works here. Possibly Raanta or Grubauer if they get picked up by Vegas. I guess we’ll wait and see.

    • everton fc

      We have to give one of Rittich and Gillies a real chance to establish themselves here. I would be disappointed if we got a Grubauer or Raanta over a truly sound 3/4 defender. And, I hope Kulak/Andersson becomes our 5/6 pairing.

    • jakethesnail

      Smith a great deal for the Flames:
      Only 2 years left on the contract; if Gillies progresses to be NHL material after year 1 to be at least a backup then first stringer, Smith can be moved at the TDL in year 2.
      His great record against the oilers – we sweep the oilers next season with Smith in the nets.
      Tre saw him in Phoenix and is confident that he works to stay in shape.
      He is a good puck mover which will make the D look better in getting the puck outta their zone.
      Same stature as Gillies so Gillies can learn a thing or two from Smith….

  • Kevin R

    I am assuming Kent that because Anaheim have left both Manson & Vatanen exposed that LVK will be getting their 1st round pick to stay away from them. But what if LVK did get Manson. He is exactly what we need on that 2nd pairing. Would you dangle the #16, Kylington & Shinkaruk at LVK to acquire him?

    My other question for you Kent is why wouldn’t Minny trade Dumba (I believe they exposed him instead of Brodin) when there was probably a decent market for him?

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Anaheim doesn’t have a First this year, gave it to Dallas for Patrick Eaves… “The Stars have traded forward Patrick Eaves to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional second round draft pick in the 2017 draft. That pick could become Anaheim’s first rounder if the Ducks reach the Western Conference Finals”. But the ducks do hold two 2 rounders(theirs & San Jose Sharks 50th & 60th) as well as round 3,4,5, But No 6th or 7th…

      • Kevin R

        I don’t think he played enough playoff games as he got injured. I could be wrong. If I am wrong, that begs the question what would the Ducks have to give to juice Mcphee from not taking one of these Dmen? A 2018 1st? I hope it would be more than that, because nobody would be able to acquire any of those players for a later 1st rounder. This Expansion Draft is starting to be bs. just like the officiating in this league.

  • jonahgo

    what mercadante’s chart shows is that upon moving to phoenix (and becoming a starter), smith has had 5 good to very good seasons and one very poor season (note: his chart doesn’t include last year, which i’ve included in the 5 good to very good based on the other two data sources presented). i’d consider that fairly consistent for a goaltender, no?

    • jonahgo

      also, based on fleming’s stuff, elliott has consistently posted weirdly low low-danger sv% (i.e. league average to well below average from year-to-year, even when he’s been very good to great overall). his high-danger sv% tanked last year, after being consistently high, which is why his overall numbers were way down. i’m not sure what to conclude from this–seeing as high-danger chances are the least frequent of the three categories, they should be more subject to small-sample-size issues from season to season… so was last year’s low high-danger sv% a sss blip for elliott (implying he’s due for a bounce back)? is a goaltender who’s value is tied to making high-danger saves inherently more unpredictable due to these sample size issues (i.e. higher ceiling, but also lower floor)?

  • deantheraven

    I can’t see why BT trades assets- real and potential – for a 35 +, inconsistent #1 with a big contract when he could’ve protected Johnson for nothing. Don’t like being on the hook for 4million if Smith tanks this year and we’re left with a rookie to carry the mail. Although, I’d be happy to see Rittich or Gillies as a 1b. Just don’t like the contract, the age, the injury history, the inconsistency… Should’ve left well enough alone.

  • EhPierre

    I know there’s a lot of questions in regards to Smith’s acquisition but upon reading an article, it cleared up a lot of my questions. Treliving wanted an experienced, goalie and so Raanta and the likes were not an option due to their inexperience of handling a 60+ game season. As for why Tre didn’t go after Fleury, well, he tried but the Flames were on Fleury’s no-trade list for reasons I can’t ponder other than the fact he doesn’t want play for the west coast? Tre also tried going after Schneider but NJ were asking were too much for him. All in all, after the first shock of seeing the trade, I’m gradually warming up to the idea that this trade wasn’t so bad and I’ve always loved Smith and how feisty he is as a goalie and his puck handling skills are just amazing

    • Kevin R

      The other thing is that there are not too many goalies in this league that haven’t had subpar #s if you want to put things into a microscope like this. Look at Fleury’s numbers, Smith is better & Fleury has been playing on the Stanley freaking Cup champions the last 2 years. I think some perspective is needed. We weren’t getting a franchise goalie no matter what we did here. Anyone we got would have question marks & potential to crap the bed next year. Even Hiller had a great year in the 2 year stint we had him. When he was on, we made the 2nd round despite having a team that had no business being in the playoffs. Get a good #4D with Brodie & I have way more confidence in our forward group, we might see 2 pretty good years from Smith.

      • everton fc

        Other than giving up a 2nd, as we WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS NEXT SEASON, if Fleury’s price was too high, I’m okay w/Smith and Rittich. Put a strong defence in front of these two and we’ll be fine. Re-sign Versteeg, dump Brouwer, somehow hold onto Kulak and Chiasson in the Expansion Draft, move Bennett to LW so Jankowski can centre he and Versteeg, Let Lazar centre Chiasson and Stajan (or Lomberg!! ;)) and we’ll be fine. Gotta dump Brouwer, Bouma… And sign a 3/4 defender. If we can add a forward that’d be fine, but I think we leave Ferland with Gaudreau and Monahan and watch teams really struggle w/that line all season long.

        Gaudreau/Monahan/Ferland;

        Tkachuk/Backlund/Frolik;

        Bennett/Jankowski/Versteeg;

        Stajan (or Shinkaruk/Klimchuk/Lonberg)/Lazar/Chiasson.

        Giordano/Hamilton
        Brodie/new #4 (Manson??)
        Kulak/Andersson

        Wotherspoon.

        Perhaps Andersson surprises in camp (or Kulak) and can slot in as a #4. Then we re-sign Stone as a 5/6 and we should be okay in front of Smith/Rittich until we can dump some more salary, and wait to see where Gillies and Parsons end up by season’s end.

        It’s all about patience here.

          • Tramp

            Throw Jankowski on the top line. Better than anyone that’s been on the right side on that line EVER. Plus he’s huge. He’s just what Johnny and Monny are looking for.

          • Parallex

            Maybe. I don’t think that’s going to be the assumption.

            I figure now that they’ve (for better or worse) addressed the situation in net I think RHD is going to be next on the shopping list. That’ll have to wait until after the expansion draft when they’ll know how many $$ they have to play with. My preference would be Cody Franson but given that Treliving defaulted to his Az comfort zone in goal I would be hard pressed to bet against a Stone extension. I hope they at least talk to Franson’s agent before settling on that though. I think highly enough of Franson that I’d wager more on Andersson having to pay some dues on the bottom pairing if they sign him.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I think people are really under estimating Anderson. This is a guy that despite battling fitness issues was one of the best defenders in the OHL. It appears that he was very disciplined last year in the AHL so I am expecting a massive summer since he knows what is at stake. Every time, I have watched him play he has been unflappable. Improving his first step will make him a great partner for Brodie.

    • Parallex

      I kind of think that once Fleury agreed to waive his NMC they didn’t want to trade him. I think they know that VGK will select Fluery and with the prospect of losing their surefire expensive back-up goalie going forward or the best unprotected skater (If they traded Fluery) Pitt decided that they’d rather lose the back-up.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I have a feeling that Pittsburgh is going to have major goalie issues next year, Murray is really good… But seems to be made out of glass. Fleury seems to be gone which leaves a lot of uncertainty.

  • Thunder1

    random reminder of Monny’s greatness…

    1 6 Sean Monahan C Calgary
    2 4 Seth Jones D Nashville
    3 1 Nathan MacKinnon C Colorado
    4 2 Aleksander Barkov C Florida
    5 3 Jonathan Drouin LW Tampa Bay
    6 5 Elias Lindholm C Carolina
    7 14 Alex Wennberg C Columbus
    8 8 Rasmus Ristolainen D Buffalo
    9 9 Bo Horvat C Vancouver
    10 23 Andre Burakovsky LW Washington

    This was not an easy choice, but we’ll give the early edge to Monahan, who has scored the most goals (107) and points (217) of any player in the draft class. In his 319 NHL games, Monahan has quickly become a No. 1 centre for the Flames and is worthy of moving up to first from sixth in our re-ordered draft.

  • Graham

    With 25% retained, the $4.25 million per for Smith ($4.25/$75) works out to just under 6% of the Flames cap. That’s not totally out of whack for a NHL roster. The contract has two years left, so neither the dollars or length really bother me. The potential for his play to drop off the does. We don’t know what the market was like, but this did look like an overpay, but in a scenario where one of the Flames younger tenders is ready in a year or two adding Smith makes some short term sense.

  • Parallex

    I’m kind of wondering if maybe Stajan is the VGK pick now… Dimitri Filopovic & Mirtle did a mock expansion draft on the PDOcast and both figured that Stajan could/should be the pick, former Flamesnation writer Ryan Lambert did the same… that’s got me wondering since I figured his age, cap hit, and depth role would take him out of consideration.

    • everton fc

      I mentally explored this possibility and someone posted the plethora of available centres who Vegas would be crazy not to pick over Stajan. I still think Chiasson gets picked, if there’s no interest/side deal for Brouwer in the works.

  • TheRealPoc

    Based on the tidbits that came through last weekend, sure seems like the Flames’ first choice was Fleury, but he was committed to Vegas. The folks most bearish on this deal appeared to be in favour of chasing after a younger, ostensibly higher-ceiling target like Raanta, Lehner or Grubauer, but the assumption most are making is that the difference in acquisition cost between Smith and a young’n would’ve been negligible – given that cohort’s age and club control status, I’m not sure that’s accurate. The only proxy we had in the trade market thus far was Darling, and his UFA status kinda invalidates comparisons anyway. Especially in a year where the next Flames pick isn’t until 109th OV, not sure 16th OV is all that expendable, tbh.

    The overall cost is getting a bit blown out of proportion, too. Johnson was flipped purely to satisfy Arizona’s expansion exposure requirements; if anything, sounds like there’s a real good chance he’ll be back regardless, so whatever. Hickey’s one year away from UFA and was stuck in the middle of a d-men prospect logjam here (Kulak, Andersson, Kylington, Fox all ahead of him for sure; Healey, and maybe Culkin & Wotherspoon – pending extensions – also in that group as well; why would he not test open market?). In effect, you flipped a package of hypotheticals to drive down Smith’s AAV by 25%. RCN nailed it on Twitter – real good chance this deal becomes Smith for the 2018 ~50th OV pick, full stop. Whether or not that’s worth it, I dunno…but let’s not exaggerate what Smith really cost.

    I don’t necessarily like this trade either. A 2nd rounder on a 35-year old Mike Smith is…a gamble, to put it mildly. I just don’t think it’s awful. Easy to say “should’ve just brought Moose back,” but let’s get real – doubling down on a bet that didn’t work last year, as your first order of action on an extension, would’ve tied BT’s tenure to a single prayer; it simply wasn’t going to happen. All I’ll say is I’m interested to see where Steve Mason ends up and how it shakes out.

    …I’ll *also* say that if I was going to flip the 16th OV pick for anything, this roster still needs a high-impact scoring threat up front to contend. If I’m not picking again until 109th, I’d much rather dangle that piece for a needle-mover like Niederreiter than roll the dice on a young tendy.

    • Tramp

      Smith was the right pick. With his intensity, he’s gonna be a second captain back there. Wideman picked the right time to leave ’cause Smitty would’a ate him first game. And everybody quit whining about Hickey, Fox was gonna kick his ass anyway.

    • Baalzamon

      This is pretty much exactly how I feel about the trade. Not thrilled about Smith, but the Flames really didn’t give up much of consequence.

      The trade could end up working out very well for the Flames, if Treliving and co’s confidence in Smith proves founded and if Gillies/Parsons/Rittich is ready to take over in two years. If not… well, it could be ugly, but I don’t see Hickey being much of an issue to be honest.

      I still would have preferred re-signing Elliott. Hickey could have been used in another trade.

      • TheRealPoc

        I just can’t see any way BT would’ve been able to sell an Elliott extension through that building. He played some great puck at times last year; he is a really good goalie; he still put up a .910 season on the whole and didn’t bring it in April. The optics are horrible – maybe in a perfect world that wouldn’t matter, but if the BT extension negotiations were as contentious as Friedman, McKenzie et. al made them out to be…like, no, that’s just not going to be the sword he dies on.

        That doesn’t mean Smith is a great, or the best alternative; I have no clue what the FO’s goalie evaluation criteria is, and their record is mixed. But I would hope what they saw in Smith is a guy with a career of above-average HDSV% who just saw two pretty decent seasons wasted behind a really bad team. I get that his play could fall off at any time, and that he’s probably more susceptible to injury at age 35 with a starter’s workload, the odometer comments notwithstanding. But 2 years at $4.25M AAV is far from an albatross, and it *does* provide a nice bridge to allow a Gillies/Parsons promotion to #1 if they’re ready, either next year (probably only Gillies who might be ready) or in 2019-20. Maybe he gets a bump behind a pretty good team we’re building in front of him.

        Or maybe this’ll blow up. I dunno!

        • TurkeyLips

          Nah, you hit the nail on the head. Clever guy like Treliving hinging his GM career on a tumultuous goalie? No bueno. Maybe it’s just the offseason optimism talking but Smith IS great. There’s a reason he was signed to an eye-popping $6.5 million dollars way back in 2013 – that’s Bishop, Price, and Fleury money.

  • JoelOttosJock

    So with the Coyotes not extending a new contract to Doan does that mean the Flames will be? Picking up more garbage from the basement dwelling Coyotes?

  • Puckhead

    Question: which expansion eligible player on the Flames roster is the most valuable to Vegas? If it’s Versteeg and they offer him enough money with term would he take it? Living close to home is nice but if Vegas offered $3M x 3 years would he take it? Southern Alberta would be even sunnier with that kind of retirement package.

  • Al Rain

    Kent – that bit about the trade market being “opaque to us”… did you write that for your dear readers or for the other FN writers?

    Here’s how I picture it: McPhee has been making noises about scooping all the goalies and cornering the market. Treliving, just like us, would love Raanta or Grubauer and he’s certainly been in touch with NYR and WSH about their extraneous goalies and knows what their price is (prob too high). It’s also not hard to figure out that VGK’s price for those guys, once they have hoarded all the keepers will be extortionate and Treliving is far too shrewd to get caught without a goalie when the music stops. He tried to land one of the big fish until the 11th hour, and bailed out with a proven, if not splashy name so he doesn’t have to deal with a Vegas loan shark.

    In fact, it’s quite possible that McPhee was eyeing Calgary’s situation and now might not hoard goalies knowing that there’s one less desperate buyer.

    There’s tons of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that we don’t hear about and Treliving is a smart dude.

    .

    • Kevin R

      Yup & I think Tre was shrewd enough to know he was losing Hickey next year as well. One less headache to deal with & if Smitty does what I think he can do, our playoff chances could be much higher than they were this year, hence the upgrade to a 2nd & a thank you for eating 25% of his salary. I have always liked Smith & he just turned 35 in May so technically, he will be 36 when we are pretty well done with his contract, unless we are playing in the playoffs when his birthday rolls around. Hardly over the hill for goaltenders.

      • Joe Flames

        I think this deal shows that BT is confident that one of the kids will be the starter when Smith’s contract is over. Acquiring one of the young guys like Raanta or Grubauer just adds another body into the logjam of goalies.
        Elliott was probably not an option because he probably wants to sign for more than 2 years. We don’t want a veteran here for more than 2 unless it is a true #1, we have to have room for one of our prospects to take the net.

    • TheRealPoc

      This really needed to be said. We have multiple confirmations that BT checked in on Bishop, Fleury & Raanta for sure; doubt that was the extent of the tirekicking. In a situation where McPhee could’ve had all of Raanta, Grubauer AND Mrazek in his possession, that had the potential to significantly reduce buyer leverage in the marketplace for anyone still looking for a starter.

      Some people take the PR song-and-dance too much at face value. Smith probably wasn’t the #1 choice; what would be the purpose of stating that publicly? If the price for the next tier up was 16th OV (or more), and and the FO came to the determination that was too expensive, so be it. Here’s the contingency.

      Another assumption that bugs me: “[this guy] only went for [this price]? How were we not in on this?” Use Darling as an example – assuming all things are equal, and we also offered a 3rd rounder at the same time Carolina did, why on earth would Bowman flip him to a team he could conceivably meet in the first two rounds? We’re all guilty at times of failing to acknowledge full context when we rush to assess the market.

  • McRib

    I don’t understand all the love for Steve Mason in the analytics community. All I see I someone wildly inconsistent who never lived up to his “potential”. He has also regressed massively the last three years, as the Flyers have gotten better. If he was even decent the Flyers were a playoff team last year.

    • McRib

      I think his numbers early on in Philadelphia were more a result of teams taking a weak Flyers team for granted. Every Philly fan I know has ZERO confidence in him, interesting that the eye test and his Save Percentage really don’t add up for me either. I can’t believe he was a 0.928 goalie at one point, because he was shaky every time I watched him that year in 2014-2015.

      • Kevin R

        My thoughts as well. Any Flyer fan I know are excited about getting another goalie other than Mason. So we save a 3rd or 2nd round pick if we are bemoaning ground hog day & checking the back of the sweater to see if it wasn’t Elliott in net & not Mason. I am just stoked about Smith because a great puck moving goalie with our top 3 is going to take a huge amount of pressure off of a teams strong forecheck. How many times were we pinned down in our end for what seemed like an eternity because we had an immobile 5-6 pairing & a goalie that didn’t help the cause to exiting the puck. Oh well, I am just one Flame fan that is pleased & looking forward to seeing how Smith does behind a playoff capable backend.

  • freethe flames

    Here is my worse nightmare; acquiring Smith might be the highlite for the Flames off season! The high price teams have paid to protect their assets have driven the trade value of assets up significantly.(the Flames don’t have the assets needed to compete in this market) The Drouin trade and signing has driven the cost signing a young good froward up significantly. LV should have enough cap space to drive the FA costs up, the additional 2-3m in the cap space gives teams like Minny more space to sign guys like Granlund and Niederrieter. Just saying that BT might be working the phones but unless he finds a hidden gem we might be thinking that Smith was the highlite.

    • Jessemadnote

      If a trade isn’t there it isn’t there. The Flames were a playoff team last year that got roasted by poor goaltending, nothing really needs to change except the support pieces. I do worrry that they consider Stone a number 4 though, he is not.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I still think Brouwer is picked by Vegas. All you have to do and look at some of the team’s unprotected lists like Vancouver, Colorado, and Arizona to see the lack of quality and that Brouwer will be sought after. Vegas will likely throw out his last year with a new team and look at it as anomalie and see his overall consistency and leadership as a perfect fit. I am not against Brouwer as much as most on this site. If he stays, I am convinced he will be driven by personal and professional pride to have a great season.

  • Just.Visiting

    Miscellaneous musings…If I’m LVK, I look really hard at Stajan for the leadership and example he would set for a young team and his ability to play more minutes for them than he would get here. It potentially also offers a transition into a management position at some point. LVK has to have some deals in place for not taking certain players, with the Ducks being the most obvious example. I agree with an earlier comment that you need to position yourself to have one of the Stockton guys earn the backup position in order to position optimally for the future. The only way to get NHL experience is in the NHL-applies to the goalies and the reluctance to make room for Stockton players more generally in favour of veterans with modest ceilings. I don’t get the Franson love around here. I’m not an expert on him by any means, but the article here several weeks ago commenting about lack of speed and poor defensive judgment left me hoping that the Oilers sign him, instead. If we keep Kulak, we need him to be serious contention for a full time role on at least the bottom pairing, preferably with Ras, who I agree might move up part way through the year. I don’t get the dislike for Stone-he passed all of the eye tests with me on a consistent basis and seems like a solid all round person too for the team and in the community. I ended up discussing this with one of my friends who played goal in the AJHL a long time ago, and he was equally surprised at how little support he had on the boards. I can’t wait for Perry to try his antics in the crease with Smith.

    • TurkeyLips

      Agreed with your goalie friend, we had pathetic + hesitant board support from our NHL netminders.

      Stone is perfect 3rd pairing guy. But I hope we swing for the fences in getting a solid #4 for Brodie. We all know his incredible potential when paired with a high-end defender.

    • Just.Visiting

      On reflection, I realize that I wasn’t sufficiently clear about my friend’s comment. From his eyes as a former goalie, he really liked the way that Stone played in the defensive zone and around the crease in particular by using his size while staying in a strong position.

      • freethe flames

        Comparing Smith to Hasek/Luo/Anderson? This is a huge leap of faith in this folks. But instead of talking about “what is done” maybe we should talk about what is going to happen. Will the Flames add a veteran back up or will they give the kids a chance to earn the job? This will be either an indictment or affirmation of our player development.

        Looking forward to FA. Who should the Flames target? We know they currently have 3 spots available; how many of them can be filled from within; currently we have 3/4 candidates for the job (Kulak/Andersson/Spoon/Kylington) will they be given a chance or will the Flames sign a couple of FA’s (Franson/Smith/Stone to name a few). I don’t think we have the assets to acquire a true 3/4 to pair with Brodie.

        Do we have the assets to acquire a true top 9 RW who can play? Again I wonder if we have the assets? Should the kids be given a real opportunity at the jobs? Should we let them push the $10m line? Or do we go to FA and as Ari discussed a couple of days ago do more half measures(resigning Vertseeg/signing Sam Gagner?/Chaisson).

        These questions and more to be answered by BT in the next couple of weeks.

        • flames2015

          Flames need to replenish some picks for the future. For now, I would look to fill the RW spot from within. Ferland worked well and Tkachuk could be also tested for the first line. If were fortunate enough that Vegas takes Brouwer, we shouldn’t jump to throw money at another forward UFA.

          I would rather use the money for a top 4 defensemen which in my opinion is a more dire need. A trade with Vegas may happened but would end up likely costing more in terms of using our picks.

  • everton fc

    One of these four defenders would be a perfect #4 here;

    Dumba/Schmidt/Manson/Gudas.

    Of course, this leaves on of Andersson or Kulak as either the #7, or in the “A”, if we re-sign Stone; I think BT will re-sign Stone. Perhaps they wait on Stone to see if we lose Kulak – if we do, then you re-sign Stone, pair him w/Andersson, and go after a true 3/4. If we don’t lose Kulak (a lot of prognostication around Shinkaruk being the pick, but I can’t see that happening) then do we need Stone/Kulak/Andersson to fill our 5/6/7 roles?

    Personally, I hope Andersson can be that #4, but I actually think Kulak is capable. But using one of Stone/Kulak/Andersson in the #4 role is a bit of a dice roll.

    I also think we try for a high-end RW, but also believe Ferland is that guy to play w/Gaudreau and Monahan. I have stated here many times Ferland will clear 20 goals w/these linemates . Potentially, you have 60 goals (or more) out of this “first line”. We need to re-sign Versteeg, hope we can keep Chiasson (as a 4th line RW, he’d be one of the best in the league) and graduate Jankowski. Jankowski either plays RW on the 3rdline w/Bennett and Versteeg, or centres the 4th line if we lose Stajan (I don’t think they’ll pick Stajan). Note my scenarios assume Brouwer is no longer on the roster. Bouma can be the extra forward for one year, or trade him for a 5th/6th round pick (the Coyotes need cap)… Or waive him and see if anyone claims him. The 4th line LW goes to one of Stajan/Shinkaruk/Klimchuk/Lomberg. Odd guys out may be Freddie (better asset than Bouma, however), and Hathaway (he’ll get a chance if Chiasson is picked by Vegas, and I think he’ll perform well up here – can he play LW?). If our third and fourth lines can be above league average… And Smith can control the net (the puck handling will be a huge asset on a team with great speed like ours)….

    One more year and we lose Stajan and Bouma’s contracts. We have to pay for Tkachuk, Backlund, eventually Brodie… We have to manage our money wisely. (And I must confess I wanted Girgensons over Jankowski; might prove to be Feaster’s last laugh here, as Girgensons doesn’t seem capable of mateching even Chiasson’s point totals).

    • Puckhead

      Seeing Stone as the #4D will be a bit disappointing for me. That said, the things he does well that I like are his shot, willingness to use his body, and positioning. He plays a gritty, simple, brand of hockey. My gut tells me he will be back. I actually saw one mock draft in which LV picked him!

      The thing with Vegas is that I wouldn’t be surprised if the assemble a moderately competitive team that is still capable of tanking for the next few years to acquire more good prospects. Picking guys like Stajan or Brouwer has the illusion of getting decent talent but also opens the window for nosediving in the standings. I don’t think McPhee wants to start his club like the panthers did, icing a competitive team right away and sucking for a long time after.

    • flames2015

      Anderson/Kulak are not going to jump in as our top 4 d. Kulak would be a good 5/6 guy. We saw Anderson in one nhl game last year? Hopefully he overcomes his fitness issues and can slot in as a 6th/7th. Stone is not an ideal 4th, but we already know hes at least servicable.

  • Puckhead

    The only way I see Tre shopping for upgrades on both forward and Defence is if LV takes Stajan or Brouwer and frees up cash.

    If they take a prospect our $10M line could stay intact…how’s that for depressing?