After striking out on both Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury, the Calgary Flames finally have their starting goaltender for next season.
By freeing Mike Smith out of that gongshow in Glendale yesterday, the Ontario native will move north to help this team compete for a Pacific Division crown. Initially, some people were wondering what the Calgary Flames were doing yesterday. After taking a deep breath, it seems like Mike Smith could very well be a great fit in Calgary.
Sure, you can say Mike Smith is 35 years old, injury prone and hasn’t led the league in goaltending statistics in the last handful of years. When you look at a book, you cannot judge it by its cover. He might be 35 years old, but Mike Smith did not become a full time starter in the NHL until he was 29. His mileage is very low, especially with the Coyotes missing the playoffs every year too. Smith has also dealt with some injuries over the course of the last few seasons as well, which could of led to some inconsistencies in the past. In three of his last four seasons, his of save percentages right around 0.915. That is just an average number, by any means.
Blame the System…Not the Player
Take into effect where Mike Smith played. He played on the Arizona Coyotes, one of the worst teams in the entire league. Mike Smith was under heavy fire, especially last season. He was sixth in the entire NHL in shots against last season. Two seasons prior, he was fourth in the league in that same statistic. He saw lots of shots in Arizona, and was playing behind one of the worst blue lines in the entire league. Given the fact that the Flames are a much stronger team on defense than the Coyotes, Mike Smith will likely see less shots here in Calgary.
His goals against number, a touch inflated by the poor playing team in front of him. Goaltenders on bad teams that lack defensive ability tend to have high goals against numbers tied to them. That is particularly not the goaltenders fault, and with a tighter defensive group here, Smith’s goals against average should drop, drastically.
What Mike Smith will bring to this team is much more than a goalie “past his prime”. Calgary is not getting a below average, salary cap anchor on their roster. In fact, they are getting a starting goaltender at a cost of $4.25 million per year. That’s a solid number for an up and coming team, I would think.
Handles the puck as good as anyone, if not better
Noted for being one of the best puck-handling goaltenders in the entire league, Mike Smith will be able to act as that third defenseman for the Flames. Look at how Pekka Rinne was able to help spring the offense from the backend with his ability to handle the puck. Mike Smith is able to create plays in a similar manner. For a team with an elite defense, that is a critical aspect to have.
I mean, he did score a goal a few years back! Puck handling is not an issue.
From my personal opinion, this was one of the major issues I had with Brian Elliott, especially in the postseason. His puck-handling ability was subpar, and it was evident in the opening round this year. You will not see Mike Smith lack confidence when it comes to handling the puck.
Smith also brings stability to the Flames crease, too. He can start 55-60 games and potentially mentor a young goaltender coming up in the ranks, like Jon Gillies. Smith is also gifted with great athletic abilities to coincide with his 6’4” frame.
Great Situations Can Fuel Great Potential
Excited by the chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, Mike Smith cannot wait to get to Calgary. He is looking forward to this opportunity, and he is excited to play in Calgary. While he might not of been the first option by Flames management he is a guy that Brad Treliving knows will solidify the starting role. Mike Smith also has a high-octane demeanor on the ice, and is not afraid to mix things up physically. He shows a great competitive nature on the ice and won’t be afraid to show his emotions either. The Calgary Flames needed someone to provide stability and mentor their young goalie prospects. Mike Smith can provide all that, and maybe he can score a goal or two as well.
It might not of been the first choice, but it might of been the best choice for the Calgary Flames. Welcome to Calgary, Mike Smith!