As of today, Mike Smith will be the starting goaltender for the Flames for the 2017-18 season. Understandably, this has been welcomed by mixed feelings from Flames fans.
The Flames received Mike Smith after giving Arizona unrestricted free agent goaltender Chad Johnson, prospect Brandon Hickey - currently playing for Boston University - and a conditional third round draft pick in 2018.
Elliott disappointed early on in the season, leading Johnson to take the starting position; Johnson also proving to be underwhelming. Both Johnson and Elliott finished the 2016-17 season with a .910 save percentage. Johnson finishing with a 2.59 GAA and Elliott with a 2.55 GAA, respectively.
After an uninspiring season from both Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, Smith is a sight for sore eyes.
Why do I believe Mike Smith will make a more significant impact for the Flames than Elliott and Johnson? Strong hockey sense and strong defense.
Smith has been playing in the NHL for a decade, and he has played with grit and poise as he has proved himself to be a starting goaltender. His talents were most clearly displayed during the Coyotes 2012 playoff run, where Smith led his team to the 3rd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He posted a 1.99 GAA and a .944 save percentage during this run.
During this run, Smith made saves on shots taken from all over the ice. He stopped shots from Brent Seabrook with numerous bodies blocking his sight, while also being able to recover fully and stop rebounds. He showed off his glove-save abilities in a gritty series with Nashville in round two. All in all, Smith showed how well he can follow the puck and his determination to make his team better.
A significant amount of time has passed since 2012, and Smith’s career statistics have taken a bit of a plunge in recent years, as the team playing in front of him has been unremarkable. Playing behind a lacking offense and defense in Arizona has not helped Smith’s stats standout in any way. Mike Smith played like crazy behind a talented Arizona team in 2011-12, and I believe he has a team to play for in Calgary. Playing behind defenseman like Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton are sure to inspire Smith to step up to the plate.
Smith is coming to Calgary in a time of goaltender turmoil, with his many years of experience and his leadership capabilities, I believe he will surprise the hockey world with his abilities once again.
Mike Smith has a career save percentage of .913, a GAA of 2.70 and 33 career NHL shutouts. Smith will be entering his twelfth NHL season.