Mike Smith owns the coveted 6-foot-4 frame teams covet, and his excellent puck-handling skills should be a perfect fit with Calgary's high-end defense corps. The move to the Flames should also prove to be a much better fantasy setup for the veteran. After all, the Coyotes allowed the most high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five in the league last year. Smith has posted a middling .915 save percentage and 2.82 GAA through 87 games over the past two seasons, but league-average goaltending shouldn't be scoffed at in any fantasy circle. Additionally, he's clearly ahead of Eddie Lack in the pecking order, and Smith should receive a hefty workload of approximately 55 starts.
Smith surrendered four goals on 13 shots in Monday night's split-squad game against the Oilers. In June, the Flames traded the rights to goalie Chad Johnson, defenseman Brandon Hickey and a conditional 2018 draft pick for Smith, who had a quarter of his salary picked up by the Coyotes. This was an inauspicious debut for the Ontario native, and while it's ill-advised to read too much into preseason stats, those with keeper shares in Smith probably want to forget about his lackluster 2016-17 campaign as soon as possible, as he went 19-26-9 with a 2.92 GAA and .914 save percentage. Flames coach Glen Gulutzan isn't sounding the panic alarm just yet. "I'm not going to judge," he said. "It's really early. It's a little different for goalies. They see three practices, and if you think of all of their skates in the summer, it's pretty tough for them when guys are playing shinny hockey ... so it's good to get them minutes."
The Coyotes traded Smith to the Flames on Saturday in exchange for goalie Chad Johnson, defensive prospect Brandon Hickey and a conditional third-round draft pick, per Cap Friendly. In order to swing this deal, the Coyotes agreed to retain 25 percent of Smith's salary. The Flames had both the departing Johnson and Brian Elliott under one-year contracts this year, so adding Smith -- who spent the past six seasons in Arizona -- was a necessary course of action, as prospect Jon Gillies may be ready for the big stage, but not necessarily the No. 1 role. From a fantasy perspective, Smith could get a sizable boost in value since he's moving from the 27th-ranked team in shorthanded situations to one that sat 12th with a stave-off rate of 81.6 percent. The veteran backstop has gone 195-198-60 with a 2.70 GAA and .913 save mark over 474 career games between the Stars, Lightning and Coyotes, respectively.
Smith has been the subject of trade rumors recently, but Coyotes GM John Chayka said, "If it's being viewed as me making Mike available and starting a bidding war, that's not the case," Sportsnet reports. Chayka went on to say that he doesn't "think anyone is untradeable." Smith recorded a .914 save percentage in the 2016-17 season, coupled with a 2.92 GAA, which was good enough for an All-Star bid. It's tough being a goaltender in Arizona, which is why he's so valuable to the organization. He only has two years left on his contract, though, and he comes with a $5.67 million cap hit. The 35-year-old also has a no-trade clause that could put a crimp in the Coyotes' plans if they do try to deal him.
Smith stopped 42 of 45 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Wild on Saturday. This was pretty much a perfect microcosm of the season for the Coyotes netminder. Smith saw a ton of shots, made a lot of saves, but Arizona still yielded three goals in the loss, two of which came on the power play. The Arizona penalty kill is ranked 25th in the NHL, so that's been killing Smith's value all season. He made 37 saves on 38 shots at even strength Saturday. Smith ends the season with a respectable .914 save percentage but also a 2.92 GAA. As good as he was at times behind a weak team, Smith was a liability in every statistic but save percentage this season.
Smith will start the Coyotes' final game of the season against Minnesota on Saturday, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. It has been a disappointing year for Smith, who's posted a 19-25-9 record and a 2.92 GAA. Not all the responsibility for the Yotes' tough season belongs to the netminder -- he was Arizona's representative to the All-Star Game, after all -- but unless the team gets drastically better in the offseason, the 35-year-old will remain a low-end fantasy option.
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