The Internet’s Fantasy With Marc Andre Fleury & Where He Will Finish His NHL Career
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If you follow hockey fan pages online, you’ll already know the most-talked-about story to come out of the NHL bubble this playoff season, has been the apparent dethroning of Marc Andre Fleury – or “Flower” as he is known throughout the NHL – has been one of the most liked and well-decorated goalies in the NHL since being the first overall pick in the 2003 draft.
The 5-time all-star and 3-time Stanley Cup champion was picked up by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft. Since then, he has been a fan favorite and the face of the franchise, which he led to the Stanley Cup finals in its first year in the league.
Fleury was noticeable in commercials during the playoffs, but was absent in games, replaced on the ice by Robin Lehner, who the Knights had acquired in a trade just prior to the break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lehner refused to lose games and posted shut out after shut out, making it hard for anyone to argue to replace him.
Lehner is an unrestricted free agent and with the numbers he posted over the past few seasons (an over 92 percent save average and 1.9 GAA with four shutouts in this year’s playoffs), expect his contract numbers to be five to seven years for at least 5 million per season.
That leaves little room on the Golden Knights roster for Fluery who has a 7-million-dollar cap hit for the Knights over the next two seasons after signing a 21 million-dollar, three-year deal just last summer.
Internet speculation has been going nuts since game one of the series between Vancouver and Vegas and only increased after Fleury’s agent Allan Walsh posted a picture of Fleury with a sword through his back and head coach Pete Deborer’s name on the sword.
One theory was that Fleury would be picked up by the Seattle Kraken and hopefully recreate some of the same magic for them in their first season that he did for Vegas. Problem is, the Kraken don’t start until the 2021-2022 season. Even then, Vegas is exempt from the next expansion draft.
The next theory with the most traction seems to be that Fluery will be bought out by Vegas and return to Pittsburg to finish out his career with his friends Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The main problem with this theory is that Fleury wants to be the starter and Pittsburg finds themselves with a legitimate up and coming goaltender in Tristan Jarry, who has earned his starting job.
In an interview with The Athletic, Fleury stated that he wanted to stay in Vegas and loved the people and his neighborhood there. He mentioned that he and Robin get along well and that he had no problem staying there, but that he would work hard in practice and be in shape to be the starting goalie.
He also admitted that he understands the business side of hockey and wouldn’t be surprised to be moved. Fleury also denied the rumors that he was asking for a trade.
I expect the Knights to act early and trade Fleury before other goalies start moving to get the most in return for their star. I also expect several teams to see Fleury as the final piece to push them from contender to championship level even if it’s only for one or two seasons.
Fleury has submitted his list of 10 teams he refuses to be traded to, so that leaves several teams that would love to have a goaltender of his skill and character in their locker room. A buyout doesn’t make sense for the Knights because they end up with a 2.5 to 3-million-dollar cap hit for the next four seasons.
As much as I would love to see Fleury stay in Vegas, I can’t see the Knights spending 12 million a year to keep 2 goalies when they have so many other unrestricted free agents that deserve a higher paycheck next season.
Fleury has handled the entire ordeal with class, and where ever he ends up, I’ll be rooting for him to succeed.
Utah Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com.
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