The Phoenix Coyotes signed former Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith in the offseason to replace want-away netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.
The problem is, Smith is injury-prone and spent half of last season with the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL. He played well — when he played — for Tampa Bay last season and even aided in the team’s playoff run. The Coyotes knew they were taking a risk with Smith, but what happens if he gets injured again or his play goes back to that of an AHL goalie?
Number one backup Jason LaBarbera is just that, a backup. He excels at coming off the bench and delivering a solid performance, but his playing time has been sporadic.
Curtis McElhinney is another player who made his career as a backup, his latest endeavor across the border in Ottawa. His .898 career save percentage is decent, but not starter quality.
The Coyotes do have a few depth options in their system, but not enough to base a defense-first style of play on.
The Coyotes have another option available, he’s just a few thousand miles and a trade away.
Corey Schneider is a backup in Vancouver and he deserves to be more than that. When Robert Luongo struggled last year, the Stanley Cup runners-up looked to Schneider to keep an eye on the ice between the iron.
While the trade would likely be costly for the Coyotes, it could work. Schneider trade rumors are already circulating and the Coyotes name has come up so they could take advantage. They could flop backups — LaBarbera for Schneider — plus a prospect if the Canucks demand a lot for him.
Smith could work out and be the next big thing in goaltending in Glendale. But if he doesn’t, the Coyotes need to take a long look at Schneider. Hell, they should give the Canucks a call to see how they’re doing and maybe ask about Schneider to get their names in the mix.