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Mike Smith will provide boost, Flames players say

Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano excited about new goalie's puck-moving ability @NHLdotcom

LAS VEGAS -- Forward Johnny Gaudreau said the Calgary Flames got a bonus when they traded for veteran goalie Mike Smith on Saturday: optimism.

Smith, 35, was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes for goaltender Chad Johnson, defense prospect Brandon Hickey and a conditional third-round draft pick.

"I think every season, you have high hopes as a team and bringing in a goaltender of that caliber, it's obviously pretty exciting," Gaudreau, a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy at the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN), said Tuesday at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.


[RELATED: Complete NHL Awards coverage]


Gaudreau said he's looking forward to having Smith and his puck-moving skills on the Flames.

"I'm just excited for 3-on-3 [overtime] with him," Gaudreau said. "It will be like 4-on-3 hockey with him."

Flames captain Mark Giordano, a finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award (won Tuesday by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno), said the trade for Smith has already had an effect.

"Anytime there's a move within the organization and a big-name player comes in, you get that instant boost and guys will get that boost," Giordano said. "We're excited. We feel like we have a young team, a young core that can do a lot of good things in the coming years."

Giordano said his own game may benefit from Smith's abilities.

"You'd like to think so," he said. "You might have to game-plan a little bit to get open for him because he can really fire it down the ice. I know playing against him, you try to keep the puck away from him as much as possible."

Video: Odland joins the show to discuss Mike Smith trade


Patrik Laine arrives in time

The Winnipeg Jets forward, a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie, did not have an easy road to Las Vegas.

The native of Tampere, Finland, connected in New York, where he had a flight canceled Monday, bumping his arrival into the early hours of Tuesday. The 19-year-old, who scored 36 goals in 73 games for the Jets this season, was awake in time to participate in a golf outing Tuesday with other NHL Awards nominees, 100-plus-degree heat and all.

Demonstrating his passion for a sport other than hockey, Laine brought his golf clubs all the way from Finland.

"You have to have your own clubs if you are serious," he said. "It's a little bit hotter here than back home. But it's been a nice experience so far. It's always an honor to be nominated."

Video: WPG@STL: Laine pads lead with his second of the game


Braden Holtby hoping for best for Philipp Grubauer

Holtby, the Washington Capitals goaltender, has mixed emotions about whether he'd like to see backup Philipp Grubauer picked by the Vegas Golden Knights when the League's newest team has its picks in the expansion draft revealed Wednesday. As much as Holtby would like to have Grubauer, 25, back in Washington, he also would like to see him get an opportunity to play more often.

"He was a big part of our team this year," said Holtby, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the second year in a row and the 2016 winner. "But at the end of the day it's about showing what he can do as a player. If he gets an opportunity to play more or be a big part [of a team], he's been a great teammate, a great friend and a very, very good goalie. So you always hope the best for your teammates that put in the work and whatever route that is to get to that success for him, that's where my support is going to be."

Holtby also is here to pick up the William M. Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltender(s) who have played a minimum of 25 games for the team allowing the fewest goals in the NHL (the Capitals' allowed a League-low 182). Grubauer fell one game short. He went 13-6-2 with a 2.04 goals-against average .926 save percentage and three shutouts.


Bobby Carpenter headed to China

Carpenter, a former NHL forward and assistant who is here to serve as a presenter at the awards, is getting back into coaching. Carpenter will be heading to Beijing to work as an assistant under former NHL coach Mike Keenan with Kunlun Red Star in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Carpenter, who played 1,178 NHL games and won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils as a player in 1995 and an assistant in 2000 and 2003, will also be working with Keenan to help put together China's team for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.


Auston Matthews waiting for help from Zach Werenski

Matthews, the Toronto Maple Leafs center, and Blue Jackets defenseman Werenski are finalists for the Calder Trophy.

They're also close friends, so close that, soon after the finalists were announced April 20, Werenski said he would ask Matthews if he needed help writing his acceptance speech because he was so confident Matthews would win.

Well, about that ...

"I was with him all day today and that's all he was talking about, and he didn't help one bit," Matthews said. "I told him I'm pulling for him, I hope he wins because he told me he hasn't written a speech, he hasn't thought about writing a speech, just a free trip to Vegas."

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