With the Arizona Coyotes sitting in 29th place in the NHL standings and in the middle of a full-scale rebuild it is only natural to assume they are going to be one of the sellers heading into the trade deadline over the next month.
Another veteran that could be intriguing to a contender might be veteran goalie Mike Smith, who still has two more years after this remaining on a six-year, $34 million dollar contract.
That deal also includes a no-trade clause, which could help Smith dictate where he goes if the Coyotes decide they want to move him.
On Saturday, Smith told Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic that he has not considered waiving his no-trade clause and that he is happy with the direction of the team and wants to be a part of it what it can become in the future.
“Obviously, everyone wants to be in a position to win and get in the playoffs and be a competitive team and that’s no different for me,” he said. “I think I want to be in a position to have a chance to win before my career’s over, but I feel like this is moving in the right direction. Things can turn around fairly quickly here. I want to be a big part of that.”
Smith also talked about the Coyotes giving him a chance to play as a full-time starter and the comfort that comes for him and his family being able to stay in one place for an extended period of time.
Smith is representing the Coyotes at this weekend’s All-Star game with a .917 save percentage in his 30 appearances. He has been with the Coyotes since the start of the 2011-12 season and has been a fairly consistent average to above average starter in the NHL. A lot of teams in the league can do a lot worse for a starter.
If the Coyotes did decide to move him, and if Smith did consider waiving his no-trade clause, he could probably be useful for a number of teams around the league that are challenging for playoff spots or missing a goaltending to help put them over the top.
The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars being two of the more obvious potential landing spots should it get to that point. The Philadelphia Flyers, currently sitting with a sub-.900 save percentage and two goalies that are unrestricted free agents after this season could be another sleeper team in that market.
The problem the Coyotes would run into if they went in that direction are the fact that Smith, at 34, still has two years remaining on his deal at a salary cap hit of more than $5.6 million per season. That is a big price tag to take on for a goalie that age, especially for a contender that might already be pressed against the cap this season and in future seasons.
There is also the fact teams in the market for a starting goaltender could have other options.
With the Tampa Bay Lightning facing an uphill battle to reach the playoffs, and with Ben Bishop on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent, it seems logical to assume he would be available before the deadline. The Pittsburgh Penguins still have their goaltending situation to address and even though it doesn’t seem likely to happen during the season, there is still the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury being available.
The Coyotes enter the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak with Smith getting the win in all three games, stopping 87 of the 92 shots (.945 save percentage) he faced.
Their 16-28-6 record is better than only the Colorado Avalanche, but a promising farm system loaded with young talent (seven of which have already made their NHL debut this season) offers some hope for the future.