Multiple reports indicate that Mike Smith has agreed to a new six-year, $34 million ($5.667 million per year), with a no-trade and no-movement clause, to stay with the Phoenix Coyotes pending NHL approval.
Smith's re-signing stabilizes the goalie position at a time when there were few (if any) better options available via free agency.
The term of the agreement allows for the slow development of the three top goaltenders in the system: Mark Visentin, Louis Domingue and Mike Lee. Portland Pirates beat writer for the Maine Hockey Journal, Chris Roy, said on Twitter that Visentin needs to play a full, healthy season as a starter in the minors before advancing his spot in the system.
Kurt Overhardt, Smith's agent, indicated in the past that he would have liked to see the ownership issue resolved before his client would sign. Even though that issue continues to drag on, the re-signing of General Manager Don Maloney and Head Coach Dave Tippett along with Sean Burke's option being picked up, probably eased Smith's worries.
Smith signed a two-year, $4 million contract in 2011 and proceeded to have the best year of his career and led the franchise to its best year as well. He started 67 games in the 2011-2012 season and finished with a record of 38-18-10 with a 2.21 GAA and a .930 save percentage. The Kingston, Ontario native would be even better in the playoffs posting a 1.99 GAA and a .944 save percentage in 16 starts.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes and Smith, he was unable to pick-up where he left off as the lockout eliminated nearly half of the 2012-2013 season. The lockout-shortened season was a mixed bag for Smith who had stretches of great performances, poor performances and injuries.
The good; Smith had five shutouts in 34 starts as compared to eight in 67 starts the previous season. The bad; his GAA went up to 2.58 and his save percentage dropped to .910. Injuries to his groin, among other body parts, kept Smith out of the lineup several times last season, including a stint on the IR.
The 31-year-old's deal falls in between the deals for Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard ($5.292M) and Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen ($5.9M).
The Coyotes hope that their relationship with Smith will continue to be a successful one that eventually leads the team back to the Western Conference Final and then the Stanley Cup.