Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney announced Tuesday that the team expects goaltender Mike Smith to miss at least another month of play.
Maloney would be “surprised” if Smith was ready to go at any point in February, according to Craig Morgan of AZ Sports. Smith went out in December with a lower abdomen injury that required surgery.
After a lousy 2014-15 campaign, Smith had started the season strong, but fell back to a .901 save percentage through 22 games before going out with the injury.
In Smith’s absence, rookie Louis Domingue has been holding down the fort and doing a pretty good job at it. He has played well enough to earn Rookie of the Month honors for January.
In 17 games Domingue has posted a .924 save percentage with a 9-5-3 record. That save percentage leads team goaltenders by a good shot with Smith at .901 and Anders Lindback even further back at .895.
Smith’s continued absence may be a blessing in disguise for Arizona, who is currently sitting in third place in the Metropolitan Division. That’s because there’s a goaltender controversy coming as soon as Smith returns.
Lindback would seem to be the odd man out, but he’ll be impossible to trade with how he’s performing.
They really need to run with the hot hand since they’re currently a playoff team, but benching Smith is a bitter pill to swallow. That’s because $5.66 million is a steep price for your back-up goaltender. Particularly a goaltender who is on the books for another three years after this one.
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Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.