NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Calgary Flames.
There is optimism surrounding the Calgary Flames following two berths in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past three seasons. But a familiar question has hounded them this offseason, and the Flames hope the answer is found with 35-year-old goaltender Mike Smith.
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"[Smith's] a No. 1 goaltender," general manager Brad Treliving said. "They're not plentiful out there. This is a guy who has been there and done it. He had to deal with all the things you have to deal with as a No. 1 goaltender."
Smith's arrival comes after plenty of recent turnover at the position in Calgary. After moving on from goaltenders Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, Niklas Backstrom and Joni Ortio at the end of the 2015-16 season, the Flames did not bring back Brian Elliott (who signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers) and Chad Johnson (who was traded to the Arizona Coyotes for Smith and signed with the Buffalo Sabres) this offseason. Each was the starting goalie last season, when the Flames (45-33-4) finished fourth in the Pacific Division and were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference First Round.
Smith was acquired June 17 for Johnson, defenseman prospect Brandon Hickey and a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft; and Eddie Lack was acquired June 29 with defenseman Ryan Murphy and a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Keegan Kanzig and a sixth-round pick in 2019.
Video: 31 in 31: Calgary Flames 2017-18 season preview
Smith, who went 19-26-9 in 55 games last season, his 11th in the NHL, has two years remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $5.67 million.
"He's a young 35. … He's got a low odometer on him, I'd say," Treliving said. "I think the way he looks after his body, there's a little bit of a genetic freak with this guy that I don't think the age is going to be something that we're hopefully concerned with, and we think [with] the term left in his contract, he's going to give us good play.
"He's a driven guy … very, very competitive and he pushes people around him."
Smith should have plenty of support from a group of defensemen that includes captain Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and TJ Brodie. The Flames added Travis Hamonic, acquired in a trade with the New York Islanders on June 24 with a conditional fourth-round 2019 draft pick for Calgary's first- and second-round picks in 2018 and a conditional second-round pick in 2019.
Calgary also signed defenseman Michael Stone to a three-year, $10.5 million contract (average annual value $3.5 million) on June 30, the day before he could have become an unrestricted free agent. The Flames acquired Stone in a trade with the Coyotes on Feb. 20.
Offensively, Calgary will look to forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund for scoring. Gaudreau led the Flames with 61 points (18 goals, 43 assists) last season, and Monahan led them with 27 goals. Tkachuk will try to improve on the 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists) he had last season as a rookie.
The Flames are counting on Smith and Hamonic making a big difference, and the established core doing its part to make them a perennial playoff team.
"We tried to be as aggressive as possible to add to the current group we have," Treliving said. "I talked a lot about growth within the group, and I still believe that's the biggest form in how this team is going to move forward, but to be able to add [Smith and Hamonic], I think it signifies a real big step forward for our organization.
"But it still comes back to … it's not like we've added 15 new guys. The lion's share of our team last year is going to be the ones that push this thing forward."