While not ideal, the Mike Smith trade could work out just fine for the Calgary Flames.
I’m going to preface this by say I do not, in any way, think the trade that brought Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames was 1) A good trade, or 2) the goalie to bring in. He’s old, he’s expensive, and Calgary is a team that’s young and on the rise. This is a team that should be going after a young goalie who maybe hasn’t been a starter, but has that potential. So, of course they went for the old man who GM Brad Treliving has a history with from his days in the desert. That being said, there’s a chance that this move doesn’t end up being the catastrophe that some people (see: most of Flames twitter) made it out to be.
First, let’s talk about the contract. It’s not great. Calgary is paying him $4.25 million for the next two years. For a 35 year old goalie, that’s a pretty hefty cap hit. That being said, it could have been worse, Mr. Treliving managed to convince Arizona to retain 25% of his salary (full salary would have been $5.67 million). For two years, while risky, it’s not something that is potentially debilitating in the long run. Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but it’ll have to do.
Smith’s performance, though, is where the picture gets a lot better. Saddling your hopes to a goalie 35+ is never smart but if there ever was a guy you could maybe count on it’s Roberto Luongo… followed by Mike Smith. Over the last two seasons Mike Smith is 22nd in SV% among goalies with at least 80 GP. That isn’t great but it is well within the league average range, and that’s with a terrible Arizona team who haven’t made the playoffs since before the last lockout.
Hail Florida Hail
Looking at just Even-Strength SV%, however, it paints a much different picture.
Over that same time frame Smith’s .927 ranks 8th in the NHL (Stats from NHL.com). This is behind only James Reimer, Braden Holtby, Craig Anderson, Corey Crawford, Sergei Bobrovsky, Devan Dubnyk and Jonathan Quick.
His 2nd-to-last ranking in short-handed save percentage is what drags his numbers down. It does make sense that he’d let in an avalanche of goals on the penalty kill when you look at the personnel in front of him. Is it so hard to believe he can be better behind what is arguably the best top 4 defense in the Pacific division?
In retrospect, while this move wasn’t the greatest, and Calgary gave up too much (although the retained salary is valuable) there’s a good chance Smith can be at least league average. It’s not ideal, and it’s definitely not Antti Raanta or Philip Grubauer. It is something worth waiting until at least a couple weeks into the season to properly judge.
He may be a funny guy and good at throwing shade. But I’m still putting my money on Versteeg to win Flames Idol.