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


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.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
Leave a comment

You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

Leave a comment

So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
1 Comment

There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)