Mike Smith played his best hockey for the Calgary Flames in the 2019 playoffs, making 188 saves during the five-game series. However, cap-related challenges for the 2019-20 season will probably end Smith’s tenure with the team.
A mediocre season followed by a great playoff round
Smith turned 37 years old in March. He’s missed time due to injuries in each of the past four seasons, and he was outperformed this season to the point where David Rittich started just over half of the team’s games. Statistically, Smith was in the bottom quarter of the league’s regular goaltenders.
But hey, he was admittedly fantastic in the playoffs and potentially that could’ve swayed Flames management’s feelings about retaining him. Would that be possible? Well, not really.
A cap snapshot
The expectation is the salary cap will be roughly $83 million for 2019-20.
Based on the players that are signed to one-ways or otherwise seem like locks – sorry Jon Gillies, you’re not included – the Flames have $65.388 million allocated to nine forwards and six defensemen. Beyond those 15 players, the Flames have four key restricted free agents: Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, Sam Bennett and Andrew Mangiapane (whose waiver exemption has expired).
If there’s cap space left over, then perhaps the Flames can look at unrestricted free agents Smith and Garnet Hathaway.
The folks at Evolving Wild build a model that projects skater contract values:
- Tkachuk – $7.889 million for six seasons
- Bennett – $2.424 million for two seasons
- Mangiapane – $0.938 million for two seasons
Let’s also take a stab at estimating Rittich’s new deal in the ballpark of $3 million for three seasons.
All of these models and estimate leaves the Flames with a cap spend of $79.639 million for 12 forwards, six defensemen and a goalie. That leaves them with $3.361 million to fill four roster spots.
Even if the Flames wanted to keep Smith and even if Smith was willing to take a pretty hefty pay cut from his current $5.667 million cap hit, they won’t know precisely what they can afford to give him until they’ve locked down Tkachuk, Bennett and Rittich. Or they’ll have to trade some players with existing cap hits to even give Smith a short-term, $2 million deal without completely negating their ability to do anything else.
Long story short: between his age, expected cap hit and the complete lack of cap space on the Flames’ side, Smith’s time in Calgary is probably done.