Everyone under the sun knows what the top priority for the Phoenix Coyotes is this summer, after getting ownership settled of course. Once that’s taken care of, the Coyotes will try and retain their star goaltender Mike Smith, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The chances of bringing Smith back aren’t seen as too great in the desert right now. Even if they do get their ownership situation settled here in the next couple of weeks before free agency begins, Smith is going to command a pretty hefty contract, both in terms of years and the money involved.
Which means the Coyotes are going to have to find a replacement, more than likely. Rolling with Chad Johnson or Jason LaBarbera just doesn’t seem like something that an intelligent organization would do. In the event that Smith does leave, the Coyotes good seek out one big name option to replace him between the pipes.
It’s widely expected that Ryan Miller is going to be traded this summer. With the Buffalo Sabres in a rebuild, they’re likely to ship him out of town in order to get value for him before his contract expires. Looking at everything but the finances, the Coyotes would make a lot of sense for Miller.
Miller is believed to want to move to a destination on the West Coast. However, there aren’t exactly clubs out west that would be considered to be in need of a goaltender, outside of Phoenix if Smith should leave. Playing in a defensive system like the one implemented in Phoenix could also benefit Miller, who is seeking a return to form.
It’d be interesting to see how the Coyotes would make the financial side of a deal work, as Miller carries a cap hit a touch over $6 million. But he does only have a year left, which would make things much easier. Whether or not Miller, or the Coyotes, are looking for a longer term commitment remains to be seen.
This will be an intriguing situation to keep an eye on this summer, if Mike Smith ends up bolting in free agency. Stay tuned.