Marc-André FleuryTime with Vegas Golden Knights could come to an end after goalie Robin Lehner signed a $ 25 million contract over five years with them on Saturday.
Options include trading Fleury, buying out the last two seasons of his contract, or keeping him to share time with Lehner at least to start next season. With Lehner’s contract, which has an average annual value of $ 5 million, and Fleury’s contract, the Golden Knights have $ 12 million in NHL salary cap space promised to both goalies next season.
With the salary cap remaining at $ 81.5 million, keeping both would be difficult, but McCrimmon hasn’t ruled it out.
“I’m not going to dive into the options, but I think it’s pretty clear,” said McCrimmon. “It can play out in different ways, and continuing with both goalies is one of those options. So, again, when we know more, we’ll tell you more, but at this point, we’re still evaluating what the next steps will be. ”
Video: VGK @ VAN, Gm4: Fleury lifts the glove for a formidable backup
Fleury was selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural 2017-18 season. When Vegas acquired Lehner on February 24 in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who acquired him earlier in the day in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, McCrimmon said the plan was that Lehner provide veteran support to Fleury.
But the 29-year-old supplanted Fleury as the No.1 goaltender in the playoffs, starting 16 of 20 games in his run to the Western Conference Finals, which he lost to the Dallas Stars. in five games.
Fleury went 3-1-0 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in four playoff starts after going 27-16-5 with a GAA of 2.77, a save percentage of 0.905 and five shutouts in the regular season.
After seeing reports that Lehner could be signed to a long-term contract, Fleury said on September 24 that he wanted to stay with the Golden Knights.
“I get along really well with Robin so I think everything would be fine. I still love to play, ”Fleury told The Athletic. “I don’t think I just want to be a substitute, but I’m going to train hard, try to play well and hopefully get games, but it always depends on the coach’s decision. Whatever happens, it happens. . I’ll do my best to come to camp in good shape and do well from there. ”
Three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017), Fleury is fifth in NHL history with 466 wins in 16 NHL seasons with Pittsburgh and Vegas. He’s 466-266-80 with two draws, a GAA of 2.57, save percentage of 0.913 and 61 shutouts in 847 regular season games and 81-63 with a GAA of 2.58, a save percentage of 0.911 and 15 shutouts in 146 playoff games.
But with Fleury turning 36 on November 28, McCrimmon has had to address the long-term future of the Golden Knights and believes they did it by signing Lehner again.
“I understand exactly what our fans think of Marc-André Fleury,” said McCrimmon. “I think he was the face of the franchise. His reputation as a person as well as his abilities as a goalkeeper make him a fan favorite and a guy who played a great goal for us. It’s really difficult as a manager. You should always do what you believe is in the best interests of your team, that’s what I did.
“We have enormous respect for Marc-André Fleury. We’ll try to make good decisions here as we go along, but at the same time, if you don’t sometimes make the tough decisions, you aren’t doing your job. as good as you should be. ”