The fact that there still isn’t a new ownership group in place may take a serious toll on the Phoenix Coyotes this offseason, as it may prevent them from re-signing goaltender Mike Smith to a long-term deal. Easily the best free agent goaltender on the market, Smith is likely to command a significant raise from the $2 million per season he received on his last contract. He’s also likely looking for a long-term deal of at least five years, and on the open market he could earn $5 million per season.
There is little question Smith has been one of the most valuable players for the Coyotes the past two seasons. He put the team on his back during the 2011-12 season, winning 38 games with eight shutouts. He was lights out in the playoffs as well, helping the Coyotes reach the Western Conference Finals. Last season he battled injuries, winning just 15 games and seeing his stats decline across the board. That shouldn’t hurt his value much, especially considering there really aren’t any goalies of his caliber available for a similar price. The Coyotes have invested at least $5 million per season into long-term deals for Shane Doan, Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and now they have a chance to keep Smith around as part of that core group as well. Losing him could send the team in a slide down the standings, and set them back for years. They have a handful of other players left to sign too, and if the team can’t match what others are offering Smith may be leading another team to the postseason soon.