The Calgary Flames tried to address their problems in goal by acquiring Mike Smith, but the 35-year-old is not their solution in the crease.
Despite so many quality netminders in both the trade and free agency markets, general manager Brad Treliving opted to go “bargain shopping” — if you want to call it that. He acquired goalie Mike Smith from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for backup Chad Johnson, prospect Brandon Hickey and a conditional draft choice.
This is a big gamble on Treliving’s part. With Fleury about to leave the Pittsburgh Penguins, you wonder if the Flames even tried to make a play for his services. One would think the Pens would want to trade him for something rather than lose Fleury for nothing in the Vegas expansion draft?
Other options could have included New York Rangers backup Antti Raanta or Detroit Red Wings veteran Jimmy Howard. If the price was right, Treliving probably could have landed either guy without a problem.
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But trading for a 35-year-old Smith? There are plenty of more risks and concerns here than answers.
Smith has only had two convincing seasons in his NHL career. The first was a fluky 2011-12 campaign with the Coyotes. He went 38-18-10 and led his team to the Western Conference Final — before they fell to the Los Angeles Kings.
Two years later, Smith went 27-21-10 with a .915 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average.
He hasn’t won more than 19 games in a season since. His goals against average was 3.16 in 2015-15 and .914 in 2016-17. Those numbers just aren’t going to get it for a team that has long-term championship aspirations.
The Flames also don’t know how he’ll perform in the postseason. In 2012, he went 16-9-7 with a .944 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average. You can’t expect those numbers are going to be replicated.
Just look at some of the other goalies in the Pacific Division. Martin Jones, Cam Talbot, Jonathan Quick and John Gibson. Those are proven and undisputed No. 1 goalies. Smith is well short of that great/elite goalie category.
Brian Elliott has a much better career track record than Smith, and the Flames didn’t seem to express any desire to bring him back. So expecting Smith to be that missing piece in the crease definitely raises eyebrows.
And if Smith’s a disappointment in 2017-18? Good luck finding any takers for the $5.66 million cap hit he’s owed in 2018-19 (though Elliotte Friedman did note Arizona will eat 25 percent of the remaining salary).
At the end of the day, Treliving did what he thought was best for the Flames goaltending situation. For all we know, Smith could have a renaissance season in 2017-18 and take his new team to that next level.
But for now, hoping Mike Smith is the next Calgary Flames star goalie may be asking for a bit too much.