When the Coyotes opened up the 2011-12 season, their goaltending position was an area that begged a number of questions.
Ilya Bryzgalov, the goaltender for the previous four seasons, had his rights traded from the Coyotes to the Philadelphia Flyers after the Coyotes refused to meet his contract terms for an extension. Bryzgalov went on to sign a lucrative contract (nine years, $51 million) that the Coyotes would never have been able to match.
During his four years in Phoenix, Bryzgalov averaged 33 wins and had made the playoffs in the final two seasons of his tenure in Phoenix.
In July of 2011, the Coyotes signed journeyman goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year deal worth $2 million per season. Many questions were asked of Smith going into last season. He couldn't beat out Marty Turco for the starting job with the Dallas Stars and he couldn't hold onto the starting job with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so why would anything be different in Phoenix?
This was a goalie that averaged just over 11 victories a year in his six NHL seasons. His career goals-against average was a 2.68 and his save percentage was a respectable .904. Would this guy be good enough to get the Coyotes where they wanted to be?
Smith had an absolutely fantastic season last year. He won 38 games and posted a 2.21 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. If he can duplicate that type of season, the Coyotes should be able to duplicate their success.
He also succeeded where Bryzgalov failed: the playoffs. He led the Coyotes to the Western Conference Finals, further than the franchise had ever been before. He became a cult hero to Phoenix fans and earned a look at an extension to keep him in the desert for years to come.
This article will explore the three reasons why the Phoenix Coyotes need to sign Mike Smith to an extension as soon as possible.