I’m just going to come right out and say it.
At this moment, I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen with Marc Andre Fleury.
On Friday, it was widely reported the general manager Jim Rutherford preferred to keep the 32 year old net minder in Pittsburgh for the ensuing playoff run. Of course, this could just mean that there’s not a deal out there to be made, at least not yet.
Later on in the day, Rutherford appeared on NHL network and hinted that Fleury could still be traded before the 3 PM deadline on Wednesday, but he hadn’t received any offers so far.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) February 25, 2017
Rutherford remains steadfast that he would prefer to keep both goalies, but in the end I don’t think it will be up to him. I believe there is such a respect for Fleury in the Penguins organization that they will honor his request either way. If Fleury decides that he wants to remain with the team for the rest of the season, that’s just what you’ll see.
When Lightning general manager, Steve Yzerman, traded Ben Bishop to the Kings for minimal return, he came out and said that the deal was the only one that was out there for his pending UFA goaltender. This gives us some insight that the trade market for goalies is surprisingly almost nonexistent. Fleury does have term and a better long term track record than Bishop, but I can’t imagine the Penguins getting anything to be excited about in a Fleury trade. If the Flower wants to stay for one last hoorah, I’m all for it, because we sure won’t be missing out on any great assets in return.
On the other hand, if Fleury decides that he’d like to be a starter for the stretch run and take his talents elsewhere, I think Rutherford honors that as well. Even if the return is underwhelming, as it probably will be, I think Rutherford still trades him somewhere he wants to go out of respect.
I’m no insider, and I’ll never claim to be. This is just the sense I get of what is going on. This situation is so unique. If Fleury never gets injured on that James Neal wrist shot last season, he is probably still the starter this season with Murray content as a backup. However, it is just insane that a 21 year old goalie comes up and leads the Penguins to a Stanley Cup the season before a expansion draft in which teams can only protect one goalie. If you replay that situation 100 times, it probably only works out this way once.
We’ve got the franchise’s best goalie of all-time, who just signed an extension a couple years ago, deciding where he wants to go from here. He knows he can’t stay in Pittsburgh beyond this year, and I think that kills him inside. Does he want to make one last run with the team that has ultimately become his family and the city that has become his home as the backup? Or does he want to rip the band-aid off now and prove he has what it takes to be a starting goalie somewhere else? It’s not an easy decision.
I will always appreciate what Fleury has done for Pittsburgh and it’s going to hurt to see him go, but I will respect him no matter what he decides. Ultimately, when the clock strikes three on Wednesday afternoon, it will be Fleury that decides what his future holds.