Marc-Andre Fleury was reportedly sold to Chicago. (Photo by David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Turn the dagger.
The Vegas Golden Knights have swapped the face of the franchise and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for potential Mikael Hakkarainen to open up the game room.
According to The Athletic, the veteran netminder was “completely shocked” by the move and received no notice from the organization, instead finding out about it via Twitter.
But there is an even bigger twist. According to The Athletic, Fleury is reluctant to play for Chicago for family reasons and is reviewing his options. Those options appear to be retiring or forcing Chicago to trade it back to Pittsburgh, which reportedly tried to acquire it last summer.
It’s an unfortunate ending in Vegas for Fleury, who did so much for the four-year franchise after being selected in the 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins expansion draft. He won 145 games split between the regular season and the playoffs in his four seasons that led the Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season.
Fleury proved essential to Vegas’ success last season, taking on most of the duties in the league, despite being bought by Robin Lehner after the takeover. Named the league’s top goalkeeper for the first time in his 17 seasons based on his brilliant regular season, he posted a .928 save rate in 36 starts.
He was also the leading option in the postseason, helping the Golden Knights return to the NHL semifinals before stumbling against the Montreal Canadiens.
In a perfect world, the Golden Knights would certainly prefer to keep both Fleury and Lehner, who together won the William M. Jennings Trophy as the league’s most efficient goalkeeping duo last season. But with handcuff cap inflexibility and serious squad issues, it seemed no longer tenable for Vegas to carry two Netminder on an overall cap hit of $ 12 million, which prompted the move to Chicago.
The story goes on
The Blackhawks aren’t supposed to be any real contenders for next season, but they’ve made some zippy offseason moves namely acquiring Seth Jones. Jonathan Toews is also expected to return after a season of health problems.
Meanwhile, Vegas is believed to agree to a significant pay raise for defense attorney Alec Martinez, so much of the cap savings will go towards it. The Golden Knights must also broker an agreement with the newly acquired former top two draft selection Nolan Patrick, who was acquired by trade from the Philadelphia Flyers through the Nashville Predators.
Even so, management should still have the opportunity to make a free agent scion with the $ 7 million Fleury now owed from the payroll.
Hakkarainen is expected to continue to develop in the Chicago system despite being owned by the Golden Knights.
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