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Mike Smith looking for big contract, not sure Coyotes can provide it

May 5, 2013, 11:55 AM EDT

mikesmithcloseupgetty Getty Images

Although Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith had a less than ideal 2013 campaign, he has established himself as a starting goaltender over the last two seasons. Now he wants to be paid accordingly.

Smith has completed his two-year, $4 million contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Coyotes GM Don Maloney would like to re-sign him, but Smith isn’t sure that Maloney’s in a position to offer the kind of deal that the 31-year-old netminder is seeking.

“Obviously, I’d like to know where I stand in this whole thing, and the stability of this franchise has a huge impact on that,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “I don’t think Don’s in a position right now, with no ownership, to have the authority to sign a deal like that.”

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson recently inked a six-year, $33 million contract extension with Phoenix, but Smith thinks his situation isn’t comparable.

“He’s 21 years old. I’m (31),” Smith said. “The league can approve a deal like that where I think I’m in a different category than him. Obviously you can’t lose a player like that to an offer sheet when you have a chance to sign him to the kind of money we’re talking with him.”

It’s worth adding that NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly doesn’t see the Coyotes’ ownership situation as a roadblock to keeping Smith.

“Team management would have the ability to negotiate and make recommendations as to appropriate contract ‘term’ for league approval,” Daly said. “So, I wouldn’t agree there are any real limitations on the club’s ability to re-sign Mike Smith, other than those that are related to the team’s overall budget — which is the same situation that most, if not all, clubs deal with on a regular basis.”

Either way, the Coyotes are a small market team and are expected to operate within those parameters. So the questions are if Maloney feels conceding to Smith’s demands are in the best interests of the club and if the goaltender is willing to provide the Coyotes with a hometown discount to aide in the process. If not, Smith could be testing the free agent waters soon enough.

  1. freneticgarfieldfan - May 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    “I don’t think Mike’s in a position right now, with no other than one good year of NHL goaltending under his belt, to have the legitimation to sign a deal like that.”

  2. esracerx46 - May 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    His years prior to being in Phoenix is going to hurt him. Was put on waivers by Tampa Bay the year before he ended up in the desert. Bryzgalov’s venture to Philly hurts as well. Combine that with an inconsistent season and a lower salary cap and a pretty weak market for goalies and a lower cap, gonna be tough for him to get what he wants.

    • phillyphanatic77 - May 5, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      Exactly. Teams are going to be hesitant to hand him a big money deal after the play of Bryz outside of Tippett’s system. Especially since he came back down to earth this season after a stellar campaign a year ago. Even without an owner I think Phoenix might offer him the most. I certainly don’t think anyone will give him anything close to the stratosphere of 9-years, $51 million. But the weak goalie market would probably help his leverage, not hurt it.

  3. thailer35 - May 5, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    I’d like to see the Coyotes give Chris Johnson a shot at the starting job next year. He didn’t play much this year but when he did he was solid. Smith will want more than he’s worth, and he didn’t perform like last year anyway. Let him walk.

    • stevebass2 - May 5, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      Chad* Johnson, but yeah I pretty much completely agree. I’m not sure if he’s ready to be a starter, but he was sensational in all 3 or 4 games he played. At the bare minimum, I would hope he’s our new backup next year.

  4. mclovinhockey - May 5, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    What kind of deal is he looking for? Bryz got a big contract the year after being a Veznia finalist, Smith want one after a bad year?

    Miller is trade bait, Lou as well (might even hit open market with a buyout), jake Allen is a RFA while the blues already have 2 NHL goalies, there are A LOT better option than Smith out there. I don’t see him making more than 2.5 a year.

    • stevebass2 - May 5, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      Maybe 2.5 mil a year is a bit low, but you do bring up a really good point. The trade market for goalies this year has never been stronger, I’d even add Bernier and Halak to that list. Also, Smith should remember that he’s more or less a stop gap until Visentin is ready to come up to the big leagues and be the starter. I remember when the whole Bryz resigning fiasco was going on, I was so worried about what would happen with our goaltending situation, but this summer I’m far less concerned. Maloney has always steered us right.

    • freneticgarfieldfan - May 5, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      Don’t forget Tim Thomas will probably also be available.

  5. 19to77 - May 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Sooo… fire up the Smith-to-Philly rumour engine? They’ll pay headcase Coyotes netminders whatever they want and then some.

    • drone501 - May 5, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      you beat me to the punch lol

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