The Phoenix Coyotes’ future in Glendale is in doubt, but they still managed to keep the foundation of their franchise in place, even if it’s proving costly. Saturday’s rumor was confirmed on Sunday as the team handed goalie Mike Smith a six-year contract, according to Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan.
The exact financial terms aren’t clear just yet – this post will be updated with those details – but earlier rumors pegged the annual cap hit at somewhere between $5.5 million and $5.7 million.
Update: It appears that the cap hit is $5.67 million, placing the six-year total to $34.02 million, according to Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic. McLellan also notes that the deal isn’t 100 percent official yet.
Morgan points out the misgivings about the franchise’s future in the Smith camp, but $33 million or more can make Glendale, Seattle, Quebec or any number of locations seem like paradise.
For many, the risks of this deal outweigh the potential rewards.
Smith is a little up there in age at 31. His career has been full of ups and downs (including two seasons with less than a 90 save percentage) and his fragility has limited him considerably. (The 67 regular season games he played in 2011-12 towers over every other year of his career; his second-best mark is 42.)
That being said, Smith did impress in 2011-12. His numbers were nearly identical to those of Jonathan Quick’s breakout campaign and his postseason success wasn’t that far off, either, as he was the driving force for a franchise-first run to the Western Conference finals.
Apparently that provided enough evidence for a franchise with an unstable future to make Smith their goalie of the future.
Coyotes keep head coach Dave Tippett
GM Don Maloney stays in the fold
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.