Well there is Mike Smith and…. Well there is Mike Smith. His contract is too big to move, and the Coyotes couldn’t get much for him with his subpar play the past few years. Devan Dubnyk was brought in last season to spell Smith, but he ended up playing so well he was traded to the Wild then rewarded with a playoff run and new contract. Louis Domingue filled in as needed in 2015, but it looks like he will return to the AHL this year. Here is a list of candidates who could see time for Arizona in 2015-16.
Smith begins is fifth season for the desert dogs and is the clear number one option in net. He signed a six year contract extension in 2013 after the memorable 2011-12 season and playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals. With his increasing GAA and Save Percentage over the past couple seasons, his contract is too expensive for teams to make a move for. The biggest issue is his style. The past couple years, the Coyotes have featured shot blocking defensemen whereas Smith loves to see and play the puck. He does very well in games where the shot totals against are 35+. Smith will also need to limit his mistakes in puck handling for the team to be successful in 2015-16.
Lindback joins the Coyotes after time in the Predators, Lightning, Stars, and Sabres system. After a few stellar seasons in his native Swedish Hockey League he was drafted by Nashville in 2008. However, he was diagnosed with Adult-Onset Still’s disease just prior to the draft causing his value to plummet. His time in the NHL has not been very good, averaging about 18 games per season with a 2.83 GAA and .905 save percentage. Much like Smith, Lindback is large in size and uses his big body to make saves. He hopes to be this year’s Dubnyk earning a long term starting job.
Domingue joined the NHL club last season after Dubnyk was traded. He earned his first win versus the Canadians in his home province of Quebec. Domingue finished the season as the backup to Smith, playing in seven games. He is another big goaltender, but not quite as big as Smith or Lindback measuring in at 6’3”. It was originally speculated that Domingue would spend 2015-16 in Europe, but he returned to sign with the Coyotes shortly before camp. The signing of Lindback could be beneficial for Domingue’s development. He will contend with Niklas Treutle for the number one spot in net, but he should have the advantage.
Truetle signed an entry level contract in July 2015. After playing several seasons in his native Germany, he attracted the attention of the NHL. He was the best statistical goalie in the DEL last season ending with a 2.06 GAA and .923 Save Percentage. The biggest challenge for Treutle will be his transition to the North American game. Planned to as the number 2 behind Domingue, this could change quickly if he adapts fast. It is already looking that way based on Tim Culverhouse’s tweet below.
Looks like it will be Nicklas Treutle getting the start for the Falcons on opening night
— Tim Culverhouse (@culvey13) October 10, 2015
Langhamer is a long term prospect at this point. The Czech netminder has good size at 6’2” 187 lbs. He struggles with positioning and patience, but has good reflexes and can deal with bodies in front. He will probably spend time in the ECHL while Domingue and Truetle fight it out in the AHL. He should get plenty of starts for Rapid City and have many chances to develop.
One of the biggest changes for the Coyotes this season is the absence of former goaltender and goalie coach Sean Burke. Burke is often credited for Smith’s great 2011-12 season. Arizona brought in Jon Elkin who has worked with Smith in the past on a part-time basis. The development of Domingue and Treutle are the long term goal of 2015-16. Lindback is the wild card, and the Coyotes may be his last chance in the NHL. But Smith will be the key for Arizona to be successful this year. If he plays like he did in 2011-12 the Coyotes will do well; however, if he plays like he has the past couple years it will be another long season in the desert.
Aaron Davis is an Arizona native and die-hard hockey fan. He played high school club hockey (poorly). He produces/co-hosts a podcast on the Heroes Media Group Network. His teams are: Coyotes, & Penguins, as well as, the Cardinals, Yankees, Suns, Everton, Steelers, Diamondbacks, & Pirates. He can be reached on Twitter – @AKD_56.