We could be witnessing the final few days of Marc-Andre Fleury as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.
This is a huge week in the National Hockey League with Round One of the NHL 2020 Entry Draft today before Free Agency opens on Friday, and it could be a big few days for the Vegas Golden Knights.
For starters, the Golden Knights hold the No. 29 overall pick heading into Day One of the Draft, which will start at 4:00 p.m. PT.
This year’s Draft is loaded with high-end talent so the Knights should get a very, very good prospect with their late First Round selection.
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As a result, we could see some movement with Marc-Andre Fleury at some point this week given what has happened and what is happening around the league.
We are already seeing some major moves being made and, as is always the case, once one domino falls the rest tend to follow.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising if something major goes down between the Golden Knights and their face of the franchise at some point this week.
After all, the writing is already on the wall in the wake of Robin Lehner signing a five-year, $25 million extension over the weekend.
That deal commits the Golden Knights to a goalie who is just entering his prime years, while giving Lehner the stability he so craved.
As we’ve explained in a few different pieces, you don’t spend $12 million on two goalies if you want to taste success in the National Hockey League so it is likely the Knights will move Fleury if they can and instead go on the hunt for a cheap backup to Lehner.
And there’s a couple of reasons why something could happen on that front as early as this week, and maybe even in the next couple of days.
Firstly, and we’ve already touched on this, Free Agency opens on Friday and it is possible that the Golden Knights could go big-game hunting in order to add that final piece to their Stanley Cup puzzle.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo could be that missing piece but, if he’s to end up in Sin City, Vegas will need to clear some cap space.
Already over the flat cap of $81.5 million, the Golden Knights also have five pending free agents to re-sign including Restricted Free Agents Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins, with RFA’s needing to be qualified by 5:00 p.m. PT on Wednesday.
Therefore, General Manager Kelly McCrimmon may try to find a trade partner for Fleury during the Draft in order to try and create the cap space they need to move on and conduct their other business.
Those talks are already ongoing according to various reports, with the price likely to be high for the Golden Knights if they are to successfully trade Fleury this off-season.
Secondly, this Free Agency will be dominated by goalies this year and we’ve already seen one moved with the San Jose Sharks sending a 2022 Fifth Round pick to the Minnesota Wild for veteran netminder Devan Dubnyk.
With Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray also being actively shopped coupled with future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist becoming an Unrestricted Free Agent after being bought out by the New York Rangers, there could be some urgency on the Golden Knights’ side to try and find a suitor for Fleury before the market becomes inflated on Friday.
Frank Seravalli of TSN has reported that the Knights have kicked the tyres on a potential trade for Fleury, including sending a Second Round pick with the goalie to any potential buyer. However, it appears right now as though Vegas might have to retain some of Fleury’s $7 million salary if something is to get done.
There’s certainly a lot at play here and a lot could happen over the next few days as more players become available in what is a truncated and weird off-season.
But, one thing is for sure and that’s the fact that it is becoming increasingly likely that a divorce is coming between the Vegas Golden Knights and Marc-Andre Fleury, and it could take place as early as this week if the right deal is out there.