Heading into the 2013 offseason, the Phoenix Coyotes find themselves in a very similar situation to that of the previous summers. They have no ownership to speak of, leaving them with plenty of uncertainty as far as their free agents are concerned.
The biggest of those free agents is obviously Mike Smith. Smith has revived his career with the Coyotes, turning into one of the best goaltenders in the league in Dave Tippett‘s system in the past couple of seasons. Which means that he’s in line for a hefty contract this summer.
But that deal may not come from the Coyotes. Uncertain ownership means uncertain finances, which could mean that Smith will bolt for a nice contract elsewhere. If that happens, the Coyotes don’t appear to be entirely prepared between the pipes.
Or are they? If the Coyotes lose Mike Smith to free agency, it will be interesting to see if they seek an outside option, or if they look to an inside solution. If they end up choosing the latter, the obvious choice is Chad Johnson.
Johnson is also a free agent this summer, but should be an easy re-sign for the Coyotes. He’s played just 10 games, starting eight, in the league. Whether or not he has the potential to be a longer term option for the Coyotes, though, remains to be seen.
What he did in his four starts for Phoenix this year was very encouraging. He finished the regular season with a 1.22 goals-against average and .954 save percentage, including one shutout. He allowed just five goals overall in those four starts.
Those numbers don’t necessarily align with what he did in the AHL though. With the Portland Pirates, Johnson finished the year with a GAA of 3.00 and a save percentage of just .903.
There’s really no way of telling whether or not Johnson could even come close to maintaining the success he had with the Coyotes in brief time during 2013. But if Smith bolts during the summer, there’s an opportunity for Johnson to grab that starting gig. This will be a situation to monitor as the offseason officially gets underway in a few weeks.