The goaltending situation for the Arizona Coyotes is no longer as problematic as it used to be. After the departure of Mark Visentin, a clear heir apparent to the Coyotes' net was unclear. Now, with a possible tandem in the works this season and a good starter in Tucson, the Coyotes look pretty respectable in net.
In this new series, we're going to take a look at the depth of each position for the Arizona Coyotes as we go into training camp. So let's begin with the goaltending.
Mike Smith, love him or hate him, is the starter for your Arizona Coyotes. After missing most of the season while recovering from abdominal core surgery, he came back and posted some pretty excellent numbers. In the 10 games Smith played after he returned from injury, he posted a .971 save percentage with two shutouts. Before his injury, he had a .920 save percentage and one shutout. The 32 game sample size is small for a goalie, but you could see that maybe the 2014-15 season was a fluke of bad goaltending and even worse defense.
According to Corsica, in the 2015-16 season Mike Smith posted a .9376 save percentage at 5v5. His low danger save percentage was .9938 with only 2 of the 322 low danger shots he faced going in. His medium danger save percentage was .9000, as he let in 24 of the 240 shots faced. His high danger save percentage was the most concerning at .8741 with 18 of the 143 high danger shots he faced getting past Mike.
In reality, the numbers do not look nearly as bad conventional wisdom suggests, so look for Mike Smith to look a little more like 2011-12 Smith this season than 2014-15 Smith.
Louis Domingue is an interesting goalie. First off he is a right handed or ‘goofy’ goalie as they are sometimes called. Second, he almost didn’t play for the Coyotes last season; he almost went to Europe to play when the Coyotes signed Anders Lindbäck as the backup last season.
In 39 starts last year Domingue posted a .9315 save percentage at 5v5. His low danger save percentage was .9691, as he allowed 13 goals on 426 shots. His medium danger save percentage was .9684, with 9 goals on 285 shots. Most alarmingly, his high danger save percentage was .7892; 39 of the 185 shots taken from high percentage areas got past him.
Domingue is only 24 years old and is still considered a young goalie. As he matures in his game, the high danger shots should go down especially as the defense in front of him gets better.
Justin Peters was brought in to be a veteran emergency option if Smith or Domingue go down with an injury. With Smith's injury history, being the first man up from Tucson is a good place to be.
He led the Hersey Bears to the Calder Cup Final last year before the Bears were swept by the Lake Erie Monsters. Having been an NHL goalie behind Cam Ward in Carolina and Braden Holtby in Washington, he is a serviceable backup.
In the regular season for the Hershey Bears, he played 37 games with a .896 save percentage. But in the playoffs, he played 20 games and posted a .922 save percentage. Hopefully, he just had an off season playing with the Bears.
Hill is a very young goalie at just 20 years old. The Coyotes have a lot of faith in Hill, and he may just be the real deal. Having him play full time in Tucson in a supporting role is going to be best for the young goalie to take the next step in his development.
In 65 games with the Portland Winterhawks, Hill had a .917 save percentage. He played four games with the Springfield Falcons and posted a .905 on a team that was not talented last season.
Hill has a ways to go before he will see the NHL. But if what the Coyotes believe is true, Hill could be behind Domingue as a backup or take over as a starter in the next few years. It'll depend on what trajectories both Hill and Domingue take.
Marek Langhamer bounced between all three leagues last year. He played initially with the Rapid City Rush with a .935 save percentage in eight appearnces.
But when Mike Smith went down with injury and the entire depth chart shifted, Langhamer made his way to the AHL to back-up Niklas Treutle. In the AHL, he played 19 games and posted a .883 save percentage. He never started in the NHL, but he backed up Domingue fore a game before Smith returned.
Langhamer will most likely find himself in Rapid City again, but I don’t think that would hurt his development at all.
What does this all mean?
With a better defense (more on this soon) and with Louis Domingue under contract, it’s bound to be a tandem situation with Smith growing older and Domingue finding his way. This season rests on their backs, but I think unless a major injury happens again, they do have the tools to succeed, maybe getting them into a playoff spot.
The Coyotes have two goalie prospects that they have bought in on, and it’s seemingly a future of Hill and Domingue in net. So long as they take their time with Hill and do not have to rush him to the NHL soon, they should be solid.