Vegas Golden Knights enter offseason with questions about the future of goalies Robin Lehner and Marc-André Fleury.
But it’s a burning question now because Lehner can become an unrestricted free agent after this season (October 9) and has taken the starting position from Fleury, who is signed for two more seasons for an average annual value of 7 million. of dollars. Lehner turned 29 on July 24; Fleury turns 36 on November 28.
Fleury’s agent Allan Walsh tweeted an illustration of a sword – bearing the last name of trainer Peter DeBoer – going through Fleury’s back and out of her chest on August 22. It was withdrawn the next day. Fleury then said he had asked Walsh to take it off.
Lehner on Friday denied a report he and Vegas agreed to a five-year, $ 25 million contract in June to sign after the Stanley Cup playoffs.
McCrimmon was asked on Wednesday how much priority it is to re-sign Lehner and if Vegas can put Lehner and Fleury under the NHL salary cap.
“Well, good questions, and these are exactly the types of decisions we’re going to be working on immediately,” McCrimmon said.
McCrimmon declined to comment on negotiations with Lehner.
“I think we’ve been consistent in saying that we don’t talk about contracts until they’re finalized,” McCrimmon said.
McCrimmon said he thinks his relationship with Fleury is very good and called the tweet a non-issue.
“I don’t think it affected anything in our locker room,” McCrimmon said. “I don’t think it affected performance which was obviously the most important thing. ”
Lehner and Fleury were not made available as part of the Golden Knights’ post-season media availability, but McCrimmon and DeBoer have spoken in detail about how the situation has developed.
Vegas hired DeBoer on January 16 and acquired Lehner ahead of the NHL trade deadline on February 24. McCrimmon said management and professional scouting staff want to improve goalies in case something happens to Fleury.
Although Lehner was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL last season, the idea was not to replace Fleury, who had been the face of the Golden Knights since being selected in the NHL expansion draft. NHL 2017 and led them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of 2017-18.
“You hand the team over to the coaches, and they coach the team,” said McCrimmon. “I don’t think it’s wise or healthy to let management make the roster decisions. I don’t think that’s how it works in the NHL. I don’t think that’s the way it should work. ”
Fleury started four games past the trade deadline, Lehner three. Fleury was 2-2-0 with a 2.51 goals-against average, 0.894 save percentage and a shutout. Lehner went 3-0-0 with an GAA of 1.67, save percentage of .940 and a shutout.
“Robin played at an elite level, and [Fleury] played at a very good level, ”DeBoer said.
Then the season was halted on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
“Peter felt really confident after our [voluntary small-group workouts] and [training camp] that Robin was the guy who was going to give us the best chance of winning, and that’s his job, ”said McCrimmon. And was it unfortunate for Marc-André Fleury and its situation? It really was. And do I have empathy for him and how did it go? I really do. But it wasn’t, as some suggest… It wasn’t the master plan.
“In fact, Pete wasn’t even very interested in us buying a goalie on the trade deadline. ”
Vegas played three games in the Stanley Cup round robin game. Lehner started two, Fleury one. Lehner went 2-0-0 with an GAA of 2.89 and save percentage of 0.903, Fleury 1-0-0 with an GAA of 4.00 and save percentage of 0.765.
Lehner started 14 of 17 playoff games, placing 7-7 with a GAA of 1.85, save percentage of .920 and four shutouts. Fleury went 2-1 with a GAA of 1.69 and a save percentage of 0.940.
“I came in with the idea that if the two players had played in equality, we would have given [Fleury] departure out of respect [for] what he’s done for the franchise here, “DeBoer said.” But [Fleury] came to the camp and was unfortunately injured. Robin played at a really elite level.
“We separated them in the round robin. Robin was at elite level again, [Fleury] was at a very good level, and we made this difficult decision. And I do not regret it.
“No one has more respect for ‘Flower’ as a person or teammate or his CV and what he’s done for this franchise and throughout his career, but we made the decisions that gave us the better opportunity to win, and we’ll do that again in the future. ”