Johnson was set to become an unrestricted free agent come July 1, while goalie Brian Elliott is in the same boat. With those circumstances in mind, it’s hardly surprising the Flames moved on Smith.
“I think it hasn’t been a secret we’ve been looking at the goaltender market, so we’ve been having lots of dialogue with lots of teams over the course of the last number of weeks and months,” Calgary general manager Brad Treliving said. “We were able to come to a conclusion here today and got the deal done.”
The 35-year-old is a solid pickup for the Flames. He was 19-26-9 last season with a 2.92 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in Arizona, but he’s a big goalie at 6’4 and covers a lot of the net. He’s also a good puck-handler and can aid in fuelling a rush out of the defensive zone, so that could open up some options for Calgary’s attack.
Smith has 11 years of NHL experience under his belt and he’s been a durable goalie. In 2011-2012, he suited up for 67 games with the Coyotes. He won 38 games that year and posted eight shutouts, with a 2.21 goals against average.
The Flames may be a way off from getting that version of Mike Smith, but there’s still plenty of gas in the tank. Just this past season, he faced 60 Columbus shots in a December 3 game.
Smith has two years to go on his six-year deal, which is to the tune of $34 million, and he’s got experience working with Treliving in Arizona. The current Calgary GM was the assistant general manager of the Coyotes from 2003 to 2014.
“I’ve spent some time with Mike in Arizona and got to know him as a person and you know what he’s all about. I think you’ve got to be careful,” Treliving said. “You don’t do the deal because you know who he is when you’re with him. It definitely gives you some background. You don’t necessarily have to do a lot of homework on the person when you have that type of background on him.”
Johnson started 36 games for the Flames last season and posted 18 wins, with a 2.59 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He had three shutouts, a career best after playing for the Flames, Sabres, Islanders, Bruins, Coyotes, and Rangers. In 137 games, he has 68 wins