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Smith says 'best fit was for me to stay' with Coyotes

by Connor Mellas /

Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith took stock of his options with other NHL teams but ultimately decided he wants to continue his career in Arizona.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith - 2012-13 Stats
Goalie - PHX
Record: 15-12-5
GAA: 2.58 | Sv%: .910
"I looked around at different situations throughout the League and saw teams that looked like they were in need of goaltenders, and after assessing the situation I think that the best fit was for me to stay in Phoenix and to work with the group that has made me very successful in the last couple of years," Smith told the Coyotes website.

The Coyotes made the re-signing of Smith official Monday, announcing a new six-year contract for their franchise goaltender.

Smith, who would have become an unrestricted free agent if not signed by July 5, reportedly will make approximately $5.67 million per season under his new deal.

"I do believe in the coaching staff and [coach Dave Tippet], and obviously [assistant to the general manager/goalie coach Sean Burke] has been a huge influence on my career," Smith said. "In the end I think I just felt a lot more comfortable with the situation in Phoenix, and moving forward I really believe we're going to be moving in the right direction."

Smith went 15-12-5 with a 2.58 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and five shutouts during the 2012-13 season. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound goaltender played 67 games with the Coyotes in 2011-12, going 38-18-10 with a 2.21 GAA, .930 save percentage and a career-high eight shutouts. He then led Phoenix to its first Western Conference Final appearance, recording a 1.99 GAA, .944 save percentage and three shutouts in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"We are pleased to sign Mike to a multiyear contract," general manager Don Maloney said. "Mike has emerged as a top NHL goaltender with his size, athletic ability and strong work ethic. He is capable of leading us to a Stanley Cup championship, the goal of our franchise. This is an important signing for our club."

Smith was a fifth-round pick (No. 161) of the Dallas Stars in the 2001 NHL Draft and played for the Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning prior to signing with the Coyotes in 2011. In 263 regular-season NHL games, he is 120-96-34 with a 2.57 GAA, .913 save percentage and 24 shutouts.

Now, with a long-term deal in place, Smith said he wants to assume a bigger leadership role with the Coyotes.

"We have a great mix of young players coming up that are going to be top players in this League for a long time, and we have a great mix of older guys that show great leadership qualities," the 31-year-old said. "I think there's a great core there that [you can] definitely add some pieces to build around, but for the most part I'm happy with the situation in Phoenix. I'm happy with the group we have, and like I said, I'd like to take my leadership to a new level and hopefully get some free agents in in the upcoming days and help build a winning team."

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