The Flames have a new No. 1 goalie.
GM Brad Treliving pulled the trigger on a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, acquiring veteran goalie Mike Smith in exchange for pending unrestricted free agent Chad Johnson, unsigned prospect Brandon Hickey, and a conditional third round draft pick. The third rounder will become a second round pick if the Flames make the playoffs.
“We spent a lot of time looking at the market, what was available and at our guys. We felt this was the best fit for us,” Treliving said.
In Smith, the Flames get loads of experience. The 35-year-old goalie has been a bonafide starting goalie for the past six seasons in Arizona. Internationally, he won a gold medal for Canada at the 2014 Olympics (as the third goalie) and gold again as a starter in the 2015 IIHF World Championships.
“I’m really happy to be playing in a Canadian market, with fans that absolutely adore their team. That’s the thing I’m most excited about,” Smith said following the trade.
“I hope to be able to play in my home country for the rest of my career. I’ve learned a lot about being a pro, about being a goaltender in pressure-packed situations.
“I’m ready for this.
“I’m just really, really honoured to be playing for the Calgary Flames.”
The question with Smith is how long he can last in the league at his advanced age. The Coyotes will retain 25% of his salary, so his cap hit will be $4.25 million for Calgary over the final two years remaining on his contract. He posted good numbers last year with a young Coyotes team, recording a .914 save percentage in 55 games.
From an Arizona perspective, they were forced to deal either Smith or the younger Louis Domingue, or risk losing one in the expansion draft.
Johnson, who was solid in his role with the Flames last season (.910 save percentage in 36 games), is a nice safety net for the Coyotes if they can agree to a contract.
Hickey is heading back for his final year of college hockey at Boston University and will become an unrestricted free agent if he is unsigned by next summer.
Sounds like Calgary was not feeling great about chances to sign Hickey as he returns for his senior year at BU. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) June 17, 2017
While Calgary didn’t have to give up a lot for Smith, there’s risk that his level of play could drop off significantly this year or next. He was the fifth-oldest goaltender to play regular minutes last season.
If Smith still has gas left in the tank, he has shown the ability to get hot for prolonged stretches of time, like he did in 2012 when he led the Coyotes to the Western Conference Final. Can he do it again with a better Flames team in front of him?
“Mike Smith has the ability to put a team on his back,” Treliving said about Smith, a player he’s familiar with from his time in Arizona.
“This is a guy who’s highly competitive. As athletic as anyone I’ve ever been around. And really, really driven.”
Either way, Smith should provide more entertainment than Flames fans are used to by playing the puck. He’s one of the most talented, and certainly the most adventurous, puck-handling goalie in the league.