It’s fairly obvious the Pittsburgh Penguins have a goaltending dilemma. On ice it’s not really a problem, as the pair of Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray have a combined .913 save percentage. It’s the pending Expansion Draft that’s the real problem for the Pens. Murray is highly regarded by the organization but Fleury’s NMC could become an issue, especially after hearing Fleury isn’t handling trade/expansion rumors very well.
I don’t think he’s handling it great to be honest with you. I think he’s doing his best to be a great teammate and to be a great pro. But, here’s a guy for a long time was the automatic number one guy. And so I think going into each game now, he’s kind of, you know, jeez am I gonna get the tap to be in? Or am I gonna get the tap to stay with the extras after morning skate because I’m not it? And I think that’s an uneasy feeling for him. I think it’s taken a chip of his confidence. -Phil Bourque
Bourque is a two-time Cup winner with the Penguins, and is in his 11th year as the color analyst on radio. He’s very close to the situation. Fleury had an incredible run in Pittsburgh, as a team leader on the ice and off it, in the community. He was the perfect franchise player. Now that he isn’t, Fleury must be filled with anxiety.
If you ever met Marc-Andre Fleury, you know he is the salt of the earth. He is just a quality, quality human. Wears his heart on his sleeve. And so there’s times you can look in his eye, and you know what I’m talking about, and you can see wow he’s not sure about his future here in Pittsburgh. -Bourque
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is handling the situation very sensitively because they want to make the right deal for both sides. Bourque stresses Fleury’s impact both in the locker room and the city of Pittsburgh with the local Ronald McDonald house.
Jimmy Rutherford is being patient in a smart way. Because, two things. Number one, he’s so loved in that locker room that you just don’t pull the trigger on a deal to make a deal. Number two he’s so loved in the city. That if you are gonna trade Marc-Andre Fleury, you’re obviously gonna get a goaltender back that’ll be a suitable back up to Matt Murray, number one. Number two you better bring in a good person for the room and for the city of Pittsburgh. -Bourque
It’s tough to say how Fleury would fit in Las Vegas. He’s had major success in Pittsburgh winning 370 games, six All-Star appearances and two Stanley Cups, but Fleury’s current malaise has me worried. If he never breaks out of his disappointment his play will likely suffer. We don’t want any player who doesn’t want to play for Vegas, let alone one we expect to be the starting netminder.
On the other hand, if Fleury looks at expansion as a second life he may be out to prove something. In that case, we get a player with a chip on his shoulder. It’s important the Golden Knights get good goaltending. Fleury could be the team’s best player some games keeping Vegas in tight games.
First he’ll need to waive that pesky NMC. But if he does, although Fleury’s cap hit is high, he’s certainly worth the risk.