Coyotes GM: Dubnyk trade means ‘Mike Smith’s our guy’

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When I spoke to Arizona GM Don Maloney back in late December, he said the Coyotes were “married” to struggling goalie Mike Smith.

Today, they made a show of commitment. Renewed their vows, if you will.

The Coyotes swung a deal with Minnesota this afternoon, sending Devan Dubnyk — their goalie of record in nine of the last 15 games — while getting a third-round pick in exchange. While getting the pick was significant, the deal was also about re-establishing Smith as the club’s clear-cut, No. 1 netminder:

Two ways of looking at this.

One, the Coyotes realize they’re quite literally married to Smith thanks to his immovable six-year, $34 million contract (a $5.67M annual cap hit). He’s not going anywhere so, rather than try and dance around the problem, they’ll attack it head on.

Two, the Coyotes are in full rebuild mode. If the goal is to start fresh and strengthen through the draft, Smith’s 3.53 GAA and .885 save percentage would go a long way in securing a higher draft pick.

Nobody within the organization will cop to the latter, but it definitely has to be mentioned. Smith is going to largely determine the Coyotes’ fate for the remainder of the season, because they really don’t really have anybody behind him: Mike Lee, the club’s third-round pick in 2009, will reportedly be called up from ECHL Gwinnett and the club’s fifth-round pick from 2010, Louis Domingue, is also in the mix as well. But neither expect to challenge much, if at all.

As for the the club’s “goalie of the future” — 2010 first-rounder Mark Visentin — he’s been sidelined all year with an injury and isn’t available for recall.