This is the first in a series of blogs on potential big name players I’m going to put out between now and the NHL trade deadline. At the moment I’m more interested in looking at guys who aren’t impending UFA’s and more so looking at those who are a little less obvious and aren’t really being talked. With these players it’s always more likely they get moved in the summer as opposed to the deadline, but the talks could easily start at any moment and if a team is desperate enough to add a guy for this playoff run perhaps a big deal goes down. Not starting with the sexiest of names, but in the coming days and weeks, bigger names will be looked at.
So, with all that being said…Mike Smith.
If I’m the Coyotes, I’m selling high here. He’s an All-Star, he’s a 5.667 million dollar cap hit, now is high, get him the f….udge out of town. Look at who needs a goaltender. Calgary, Dallas, NY Islanders, St. Louis, and Winnipeg. Five teams, all of whom could make a deal for Smith work.
You maybe could add Philly into that mix, but I really believe that Ron Hextall knows they have things on the right path and can look for a goaltender possibly in the offseason. Missing the playoffs this year wouldn’t be a big blow for a Flyers team rebuilding on the fly. Smith wouldn’t cost much in terms of assets, and he’s locked up for another two seasons.
I think the price should be a 2nd round pick (keep in mind this is a weak draft class) and a prospect, but it’ll always vary from team to team. What hurts Smith’s value isn’t as much his cap hit or his past few rocky seasons, but the other guys who will be available. Ben Bishop in Tampa could go, as could Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ryan Miller. But that still would leave two teams for one Mike Smith. Also need to keep in mind that Smith has a no trade clause, so that could play a big factor in all this. With that being said, let’s look at what the trade could be with each of those aforementioned teams.
Calgary offer idea: 2017 2nd round pick, Mason McDonald, and Tyler Wotherspoon.
I believe they’ll lockdown Chad Johnson, and if they could land Smith (who Brad Treliving knows well from his days with the Coyotes), I would suggest Elliott could simply be moved in a separate deal, so I don’t have him going to Arizona. McDonald is struggling in the Flames system, but he’s still real young and well worth taking a shot on. Wotherspoon is a kid who is on the cusp and just needs a legitimate shot to play in the league which he hasn’t been able to do in Calgary. Three assets while dumping the Smith contract would be a nice win for the Coyotes.
Projected interest in Smith: 5/10. I believe they would maybe kick tires, but if they don’t want to pay the price they’ll simply look elsewhere at a Bishop, Fleury, or re-signing Brian Elliott who has been inconsistent to this point but has been showing signs of breaking out the last month or so. Plus, I frankly had a tough time coming up with an offer I really loved for both sides here. The 2015 miracle run in Calgary has bought that organization some time with their rebuild if they need it.
Dallas offer idea: Kari Lehtonen, 2017 1st round pick (lottery protected), and Valeri Nichushkin.
Real tough here judging Nichushkin’s value. He must still have value, but he’s a big gamble. The Stars are in danger of missing the playoffs, and they might be getting to a point where they’ll throw in the towel on 2017, but with more stability in goal it could put them over. And the Stars in this deal get out from Lehtonen’s deal, they actually save a bit on the cap next season. The Coyotes take on Lehtonen’s deal, but it’s only got one more year left on it as opposed to the two years Smith has left. So you add big time assets and the truth is that Lehtonen is capable of being as good as Smith. He’s very inconsistent, but he can give you quality games.
Projected interest in Smith: 6/10. That little more stability in goal could be huge for this Stars team. But they’ll have to pay a bigger price because the Coyotes will have to take on one of Lehotnen or Niemi’s deal for next season.
NY Islanders offer idea: Jaroslav Halak, 2017 2nd round pick, and Scott Mayfield.
Pretty standard here. Halak has another year on his deal which probably wouldn’t bother the Coyotes to have a starter still around at a lower price point, plus you add a 2nd and a RH shot D-man who is near ready to play, could likely step in for the likely departing Michael Stone next season.
Projected interest in Smith: 7/10. Term is the big key here for a team that still has trouble drawing UFA’s. Of course this is one spot where I could see Smith invoking his NTC. No doubt though that they’ve had enough of Halak and need a new number one guy between the pipes.
St. Louis offer idea: 2017 1st round pick (lottery protected), Jake Allen, Jordan Schmaltz.
So believe it or not, I started writing this piece about a week and a half ago when Jake Allen looked to be losing his grip on the starting gig in St. Louis, but now as you know this situation has become toxic. Theory with this offer is the Blues will have to pay more if they want the Coyotes to take on Jake Allen’s new 4 year/17.4 million dollar deal that starts next season. Man, Doug Armstrong sure believed in Allen, and for what reason I in no way know! The kid has fallen flat on his face in seemingly every big spot he’s ever played in.
Projected interest in Smith: 8/10. This is my number one candidate for Smith. Doug Armstrong had him in Dallas, they’re likely desperate to at least give Ken Hitchcock a real shot at a Cup before he retires, and I have to believe they’d relish the opportunity to get out from that Jake Allen extension if they can despite backing him publically. Also if you’re the Coyotes, Allen might not be a bad risk to take. Going from a Cup contender to an NHL after thought might be exactly what this kid needs, because he has the talent. He just seems to crack mentally when the pressure is on.
Winnipeg offer idea: Michael Hutchinson, Eric Comrie, Jack Glover
Connor Hellebuyck is their guy, but it’s clear he’s not ready to be the starter. Bring in Smith, and they could go with a 50-32 split for Smith next season, 41-41 in 2019 (are we ACTUALLY already talking about the 2019 season?!) Eric Comrie without a doubt is the key to this deal for the Yotes as he would instantly be pegged as their goalie of the future. Hutchinson and Comrie is already a pretty good deal for the Coyotes, a RH shooting D prospect like Glover would just be gravy. He isn’t a sexy (or highly touted) prospect, but helpful.
Projected interest in Smith: 7/10. The NTC could be a factor in a potential move here as well. But the Jets are building something pretty great and Smith’s deal would come off the books just as Laine’s ELC is done. He would stabilize their goaltending which as we seen against Montreal last week, is in complete shambles. If Smith came in and stayed hot, it could get them in the playoffs.
Again, many of these teams could take a different route. But I really like Smith as the answer for all of these teams. Experienced, playing well, only two years left on his contract at a manageable cap hit, and again for the Coyotes it allows them to not only add assets to the rebuild but also find the longer term answer. At 34, Smith isn’t it.
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