‘Uncertainty’ has become something of a motto for the Phoenix Coyotes in recent years. As the Coyotes head into the summer, it’s yet another offseason filled with uncertainty. We don’t even know if this franchise will still be in the desert next year, let alone whether or not some of their numerous free agents will be back in the fold next year.
One situation in particular in regard to this franchise relates both to their potential relocation and their situation in free agency. It’s that uncertainty surrounding their future in the desert, as they continue to roll on without an owner, that could cost them in trying to re-sign Mike Smith.
There’s no doubt that the Coyotes have saved Smith’s career. He’s gone from career backup to a goaltender heading to join Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships next month. Much of that has been due to the system of Dave Tippett. If Tippett is going to stay in Phoenix, you can bet that Smith would like to as well.
The Coyotes can’t really afford to be handing out lucrative six-year contracts like Jimmy Howard just received. And given the fact that Smith is 31, you’re probably not going to see that type of term on a potential deal. But if the Coyotes are able to settle their ownership situation in time to get a Smith deal done, what might it cost them?
Phoenix could actually double Smith’s salary and still keep it manageable. He’s only carrying a cap hit of $2 million. Heck, there are teams that would probably be willing to triple that if he had that success in their system. But the Coyotes aren’t in a position where they can afford that.
If the Coyotes are able to re-sign him, it’s probably going to be on a contract around three or four years in length. A cap hit of $4.5 million sounds like something that could be reasonable. Perhaps they’ll look at the deal that Antti Niemi received a couple of years ago, when he agreed to a four-year, $14 million contract.
Anywhere in that neighborhood seems reasonable for Smith. The Coyotes know that he’ll have success in their system and is a potential nightmare for teams in the postseason. But Smith could look to jump ship and sign for more years and/or money this summer. This situation will be one to keep an eye on as free agency creeps closer.