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FSM Breaking News: Golden Knights Trade Marc-Andre Fleury

Franchise Sports Media

 

The Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is on the move.

 

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The Vegas Golden Knights have traded goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. On Tuesday morning, VGK agreed to trade the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner to Chicago. Reportedly the Golden Knights would be receiving a minor league forward Mikael Hakkarainen, who spent time in the ECHL and AHL last season, in a move that can only be called a salary dump for VGK. 

The three-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender is signed through next season at a cap hit of $7 million, and no salary has been retained in the deal, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. To add to the drama, the Blackhawks were not on Fleury’s 10-team no-trade list. The goaltender’s preference was to remain in Las Vegas. Retirement could be an option for the veteran netminder, per reports.

VGK general manager Kelly McCrimmon was defensive about the team’s process, saying conversations about a potential trade began at Fleury’s exit meeting on June 29.

McCrimmon said he told Fleury that he wasn’t sure what the team was going to do next season, but he wanted the goaltender to be fully aware of any discussions. McCrimmon said he last spoke with Fleury’s representatives on Saturday.

We can’t contact a player and tell that player that he’s been traded if we haven’t completed the trade call,” McCrimmon said. “It’s just a process that you have to go through with the timing of that. Unfortunately, it all leaks out. It just always seems to. It’s not a lack of regard for the players. And again, in this situation, Marc-Andre was fully abreast of discussions all the way through, not just in relation with the team he ended up being traded to, the Chicago Blackhawks, but any other conversations that I had previously.”

 

In 36 games this past season, Fleury was 26-10-0 with a goals-against-average of 1.98 and a .928 save percentage, earning him his first Vezina of his 17-year career.

 

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Originally taken with the first overall pick of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Fleury spent the first 13 seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fleury and Robin Lehner won the William Jennings Trophy as the goalie tandem with the best save percentage. In the playoffs, Fleury led the Golden Knights to series wins against the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche before falling to the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals.

It had been an awkward timeshare after the Golden Knights brought in Lehner at the 2020 trade deadline — in a deal, ironically, with Chicago. Fleury and Lehner got along well off the ice, even as Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer switched between the goalies over the last two years.

 

During the 2020 playoffs, in which Lehner became the primary starter, Fleury’s agent tweeted a photoshopped picture of Fleury being stabbed by a sword that had DeBoer’s name in it.

 

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The Blackhawks are in the middle of a rebuild but are accelerating their timeline. On Friday, the team traded for defenseman Seth Jones and agreed on an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $9.5 million.

The opportunity to acquire a Vezina-winning goaltender is rare, and one you cannot pass up,” Blackhawks president and general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “Marc-Andre improves our goaltending, strengthens our team defense, and will have a huge impact on the overall development of the Blackhawks.

Having a goaltender like this on our team will put the talent we currently have on our roster in a better position to achieve sustained success. The entire organization is thrilled to have this future Hall of Famer on our team, and his reputation of being an excellent teammate on and off the ice precedes him.”

Chicago has missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, finishing sixth last season in the Central Division. The Blackhawks were without captain Jonathan Toews last season as he took a personal leave to deal with medical issues. Toews, however, plans to be back for the 2021-22 season.

My job is to make our team better, and you need cap space to do that,” said McCrimmon, who wouldn’t say if the team had also considered trading Lehner.

Marc-Andre wanted to play in Vegas, that never changed. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone on the call, that was his No. 1 preference,” McCrimmon said. “With respect to any decisions he might make moving forward, this is a player that is at the very top of his game. I believe he’ll be a candidate to play for the Canadian Olympic team, so I sure think he’ll play this year, but those are things I’d leave he or others to speak about.

“He was the most popular player I’ve ever seen in sports. He was the face of the franchise when you think back to how it all began — the storybook season, the passion he has for the game both as a teammate and a player that’s connected to the fan base. I want to recognize him for his great accomplishments, thank him for his time here. He’s had a tremendous impact on our organization, a tremendous impact on our city. For a lot of people, this is a day that is definitely filled with sadness. Certainly, I feel all of those same emotions that you do. But I feel I am responsible to put the best team possible on the ice.”

Marc-Andre Fleury is known to be one of the nicest human beings in the history of the National Hockey League. He is also one of the greatest goalies in the history of the NHL as well. As you can imagine, this move has not gone over well with Golden Knights fans, who have been outspoken with their support and love for the goalie known as “The Flower.” Fleury has been a pillar in the Vegas community since he arrived in 2017.

This deal now allows the Golden Knights to commit to Robin Lehner full-time and create more cap room for other areas.

 

Could this be a precursor to another trade for the Golden Knights?

 

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Now armed with an additional $7 million in salary-cap space and in need of a center, could the Golden Knights make another deal, this time for Buffalo Sabers center Jack Eichel? Their weakness down the middle was highlighted in their series loss to the Montreal Canadiens, and Eichel would certainly fill that need in a major way. Eichel has already established himself as one of the NHL’s premier centers, but his relationship with the Sabers organization has soured, with the two sides recently disagreeing on the proper treatment for Eichel’s injury.

Rumors started to swirl that the Sabers want three players and a first-round pick for the talented 24-year-old center. Riley SmithPeyton Krebs, and Nic Hague are the three names that have been rumored as part of a trade package for the former #2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. If you combine the three aforementioned player’s salaries with Fleury’s salary now off the VGK books, a deal could be on the horizon.

Our expectation is that Jack is going to be traded in the near future, and all of our discussions have been centered around that issue,” Eichel’s agents Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli said in a joint statement to Elliotte Friedman on Sunday.

With an already stacked roster, Eichel would make the Golden Knights one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup next season. Hell, without Eichel, they will be considered a favorite. Stay tuned, Golden Knights fans, this is starting to look like it is going to be an interesting offseason.

 

 

FSM’s VGK writer DJ Wood will have more on the Fleury trade, what it means for the future and present so stay tuned to Franchise Sports Media.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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