At this point, signing with the Phoenix Coyotes is akin to taking the boat ride at Willy Wonka's factory, what with there being "no earthly way of knowing which direction [they] are going." And yet, despite all the uncertainty in Glendale, the organization continue to retain their core pieces.
Mike Smith appears to be the latest to sign up for a tour of the chocolate river. According to Sarah McLellan, Smith and the Coyotes are finalizing a deal that will pay him $34 million over the next six years. From AZ Central:
That puts Smith among the top-10 highest-paid goalies as he’ll make slightly more than Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist but less than Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick.
Communication between Smith’s camp and the Coyotes had been regular since the season ended, but negotiations accelerated after coach Dave Tippett re-signed. Once that contract was announced, General Manager Don Maloney said both sides knew where they were at in negotiations and it was just a matter of finding out if they could bridge that gap.
One can understand why Smith might want to wait until he was certain Dave Tippett was returning. After all, while his success isn't entirely due to Tippett's system, all one has to do is look at the paths of Smith and Ilya Bryzgalov since the former replaced the latter two years ago.
Smith is about to be given $34 million to stay. Bryzgalov just got $23 million to leave.
That said, Mike Smith is outearning Henrik Lundqvist, and I'm not sure it makes sense for the Coyotes to be paying that kind of money for a goaltender propped up at least somewhat by the coach's system, and one that wasn't able to replicate the success of his first year in Phoenix.
That's not to say Mike Smith isn't excellent, because he is. But $5.67 million per year excellent?
I'm not so sure on that, but I'd far rather retain a proven commodity like Mike Smith than test the market, and I guess that's the cost of convincing a guy to forgo unrestricted free agency for a ride on the psychedelic Hell ferry.