Coyotes Ship Smith to Flames, Sabres Acquire Beaulieu from Canadiens
The Arizona Coyotes shipped goaltender Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames in exchange for goaltender Chad Johnson, defenseman Brandon Hickey and a conditional third-round pick in 2018. If the Flames reach the playoffs next season, that pick becomes a second-round selection. The Coyotes also pick up 25 percent of Smith’s $5.6 million annual salary-cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the second straight year, the Flames acquire a veteran starting goaltender. They’re hoping the 35-year-old Smith will pan out better than Brian Elliott, who struggled in Calgary last season and is expected to depart via unrestricted free agency on July 1.
Smith spent the past six seasons with the Coyotes, backstopping them to the 2012 Western Conference Final. Since then, he’s struggled with consistency, injuries and adjusting to a rebuilding roster. He also helped Canada win a gold medal in the 2015 World Championships. He has two seasons remaining on his contract at a reasonable cap hit for the Flames of around $4.2 million annually.
Given Smith’s decent numbers last season and his stellar play at the 2015 Worlds, he could fare better in Calgary with a better team in front of him.
Over the last three seasons, goaltending proved a serious weakness for the Flames. General manager Brad Treliving knows Smith from his days with Coyotes management and obviously believes he’ll be a worthwhile short-term investment while their goalie prospects develop. However, he’s taking a gamble on a netminder whose best seasons are behind him.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, now require a proven starting goaltender. Louis Domingue isn’t ready yet for that role and Johnson is best suited for backup duty. Hickey’s spent the past three seasons at Boston University and is likely destined for their farm team next season.
The Buffalo Sabres acquired defenseman Nathan Beaulieu from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the Sabres’ third-round pick in the upcoming 2017 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans expected Beaulieu would be moved. A former first-round pick, he struggled to play up to expectations in Montreal. They probably won’t be pleased with GM Marc Bergevin getting such a low return.
With Beaulieu gone and promising Mikhail Sergachev shipped to Tampa Bay in the Jonathan Drouin deal, the Canadiens need some skilled youth on their blueline. This will only stoke the rumors suggesting winger Alex Galchenyuk will be shopped for a defenseman.
As for the Sabres, they get a decent depth defensemen at an affordable price. If Beaulieu can reach his potential in Buffalo, this could turn into a steal.