Pittsburgh Penguins: Addressing The Marc-Andre Rumors
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There was an interesting tidbit that came out of the interview process that the Pittsburgh Penguins conducted in their search for a new General Manager.
As the report goes, one candidate actually pitched his idea on how he would make a trade work that would bring back goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. It was a small part of the presentation, but nonetheless an interesting thing to come out of the interview process.
It was also said that Patrik Allvin, in his brief time as the interim GM, made a call to Vegas, inquiring about a potential trade involving Fleury.
Of course nothing came of it, and the Penguins went ahead and hired Ron Hextall to be the next GM and Brian Burke to be the President of Hockey Operations.
But of course the team's struggles at the goaltending position has just escalated the talks about the Penguins search for a potential different answer in net.
It would be a storybook type of ending to the whole Penguins and Fleury saga. Formerly the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft, Fleury was a part of the core that included Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin that reached back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009, winning the latter.
With the emergence of Matt Murray, Fleury was pushed to a backup role as the Penguins won back-to-back Championships in 2016 and 2017. Still wanting an opportunity to start, Fleury okayed a move that would allow him to start over in Vegas with the expansion Golden Knights.
Vegas would go on to reach the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence with Fleury in net, and Pittsburgh has not only struggled to get out of the first round since then (one of three years) but has since traded the man that forced 'The Flower' out of town, Murray.
While most had confidence in the move with the emergence of Tristan Jarry, his struggles to start the year has enough concerned about his play to believe that a move is needed to help capitalize on the near-closed window with Crosby and Malkin.
So it would make for a perfect story. Bring back the guy who did so much for the organization, on and off the ice.
Vegas has two starting goaltenders, after trading for Robin Lehner last year, and then signing him to a long-term contract - we know who is in line to man the net for the foreseeable future.
Plus with Fleury's contract, the Golden Knights have over $12 million tied up into the salary cap at the goalie position, not ideal for a team that is in a constant fight to stay compliant.
So yes, in theory this works. Vegas unloads one of their bigger contracts, even if they have to eat some of the cap hit, and Pittsburgh improves the position they are weakest at currently.
The theory quickly dies out when you look at things from Vegas' point of view.
Fleury has been amazing this season, one of the best goalies in the league at 5v5, in fact. With his 1-0 shutout against the Colorado Avalanche, Fleury improved to 7-1 on the season, all the while Lehner has struggled to find the success that allowed him to come in and take the starting job from the incumbent.
Currently sporting the third highest save percentage at 5v5 (.949%), Fleury has firmly reinserted himself as the team's starting goalie. Lehner, currently day-to-day, has struggled in the five games he has played, posted just a .879 SV% at 5v5 (46th among goalies with 200 minutes at 5v5).
So why would they trade Fleury?
With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID, it doesn't make sense to trade a goalie, especially one doing as good as Fleury is doing.
So while it'd be a nice story to bring back Fleury for one last ride, it just isn't going to happen, there just isn't enough there to get an actual deal done.
I was as big a Fleury fan there was when he was in Pittsburgh. I'm still a fan of his. It's fun to see him doing so well in Vegas right now. A 1-0 shutout on the Avalanche isn't anything to take lightly.
Getting to see him in a Penguins jersey again would be an awesome thing to see.
It's just something that isn't going to workout.
Can The Pens Make A Deal Happen?
Trading for a goalie seems like a less than ideal thing. Whose really in the market to trade one? Especially in this pandemic world. Goaltending depth seems like a crucial piece of not only competing, but putting yourself in position to be able to fill a full roster on a nightly basis.
Even so, the Penguins may be forced to try and enter the market looking for a goalie. While there are some big name players that are pending unrestricted free agents, none of them are really an upgrade at this point.
Devan Dubynk was statistically one of the worse goalies in the league last year and hasn't done much to change that this season. Pekka Rinne has a top-20 5v5 SV% currently, but his $5 million cap hit and no trade clause creates quite the hill to climb to make anything happen.
This is even if the Nashville Predators are looking to trade him. Antti Raanta, Jonathan Bernier, and Carter Hutton are the only other notable names that are pending UFAs. Bernier and Hutton provide no upgrades, and Raanta might cost a premium as the likely best of the 'rental' goalies - if that's even the case with him and the Arizona Coyotes.
It could very well come down to a situation where the Penguins have no choice but to ride it out with their current goalie tandem.
What do you think of the Penguins goaltending situation? Should they try and press for a trade or continue to try and let Jarry work things out? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.