The Arizona Coyotes need to address their goaltending depth sooner rather than later.
The Arizona Coyotes have been encountering unique goaltending scenarios for several seasons now.
Some of them are self-inflicted with bad contracts or trades, while others are injury related.
That hasn’t changed in 2016-17, and February has been a busy month in goaltending management for the club.
Minor League Moves
On February 1st 2017, the Coyotes’ moves on the trade market commenced with an unexpected minor league trade.
The deal sent Roadrunners goaltender Justin Peters and defenseman Justin Hache to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Brendan Ranford and Branden Troock.
It was evident 30 year-old Peters was not part of the Coyotes’ long-term rebuild plans and GM John Chayka felt the time to part ways with the goaltender was now.
Perhaps he felt it was Adin Hill‘s time to assume the starting position while bolstering forward depth.
Whatever his reasoning, the deal did not see a goaltender heading back to Tucson, leaving a glaring spotlight on our goaltending depth.
Injuries and Emergency Call-Ups
In mid-February, Coyotes back-up goaltender Louis Domingue injured his lower body in the morning skate at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
John Chayka had to make an emergency call-up that sent 22 year-old Marek Langhamer from Tucson to Los Angeles to back up Mike Smith.
The Arizona Coyotes didn’t need him against the Kings, but a few nights later in the third period against the Ducks, Mike Smith’s helmet flew off from a collision with Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg. A spotter in Toronto determined Smith needed to be sent to the locker room in the third period, in compliance of the NHL concussion protocol.
Enter ‘The Hammer’.
After one full game on the bench, Marek Langhamer came in to relieve Smith and made 7 saves to win his first NHL game for the Coyotes. I think Langhamer has a lot of skill and is a promising prospect, but I believe we got lucky and barely held on to this game.
A few days later, the Coyotes oddly found themselves in another goaltending pickle. Louis Domingue was activated off the IR from his injury and Langhamer was sent back down to Tucson.
Facing a back-to-back after a tough loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Coyotes were set to play the Dallas Stars. Domingue was the set starter and the back-up role would be assumed by Mike Smith, facing much needed rest.
Hours before the game, Mike Smith got an unexpected illness and was unable to suit up.
The Coyotes had to make another emergency goaltending call-up and this time it was Adin Hill.
Hill didn’t play in the game, but he probably should have. Louis Domingue was not impressive and gave up four straight goals to the Dallas Stars and cost the Coyotes at 2-1 lead.
Domingue Not a Reliable #2
This season, Louis Domingue has not delivered when needed most.
He performs best when he receives consistent work, and that isn’t going to happen behind Smitty.
In a league where one goaltender can’t get it done by himself, a reliable number two goalie is a necessity for every NHL team. Smith carries too heavy of a load and faces a lot of shots, so it’s inevitable he will have tough games and when he needs a break the Coyotes need someone to step in.
Specifically for the Coyotes, there is no goaltender behind Smith who is reliable and has experience.
The latter will come for Langhamer and Hill, but if the Coyotes want to contend consistently they need to sign a reliable number two goalie in the off-season.