The clock is ticking on the “first order of business” for the Golden Knights this offseason. With the buyout period open and free agency set to begin on October 9th, the VGK front office will have to execute whatever plan they have in mind to solve their conundrum between the pipes soon.
Yesterday, in an interview with Jesse Granger of The Athletic Fleury indicated that he has not formally requested a trade, he would prefer to finish his career in Vegas, and he is not opposed to splitting time with Robin Lehner.
I want to stay in Vegas. I thought when I came here that maybe I could retire here. I wanted to end my career here. –Marc-Andre Fleury to The Athletic
That willingness leaves the door wide open for the Golden Knights. There are five options for Vegas. Some are great, some are ok, and some are downright terrible. I’ve ranked them, in order from best-case scenario to worst-case for the organization. We start with the best option.
Re-sign Lehner. Trade Fleury without retaining any salary
This is the best realistic result for the Golden Knights this offseason. There have been reports of a handshake agreement on a deal worth $5 million per year between Lehner and Vegas but both sides have denied such deal exists. But, where there’s smoke, oftentimes there’s fire, which means while that deal may not be final right now, it could in the near future. After signing that deal, Vegas would look for a landing spot for Fleury in which the team taking him on accepts 100% of his salary. Obviously, in a perfect world, the Golden Knights would get an asset in return, but in the current landscape, that seems fairly unlikely. So the hope would be that it wouldn’t cost more than a 3rd round pick to make it happen.
If it all goes down that way, Vegas will have saved $2 million at the goalie position, gotten much younger going from Fleury to Lehner, bought an extra three years of goalie contract, and turned their “rental” into a long-term piece making the initial trade for Lehner even more palatable than before. Even if Lehner’s number is closer to $7 million or if the term is shorter, the Golden Knights will have made out well.
Re-sign Lehner. Trade Fleury with a portion of salary retained (or take a player with a significant cap hit in return)
This is the most likely of the five options listed. With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million and Fleury holding the right to veto a trade to 10 teams, it’s going to be challenging for Vegas to find a trade partner that accepts Fleury’s full contract. Thus, it’s more likely that the team he heads to (which might be a middle man before he goes to a third team) will want Vegas to either retain a portion of Fleury’s contract for the next two seasons or take on an underperforming NHL player with a significant cap hit.
The final outcome from the goalie situation would be exactly the same on the ice for the Golden Knights as the previous option but would end up costing a lot more against the cap. Depending on how exorbitant the added cap burden is, Vegas will then have to make a few moves to just return to being cap complaint, let alone anything they’d like to do to add to their team this offseason.
Retain Fleury. Let Lehner walk in free agency.
This option may be the fan-favorite, but beyond it being highly unlikely, it will make the deadline deal look pretty brutal. Vegas gave up a 2nd round pick, Malcolm Subban, and Slava Demin (2018 4th round pick) to play Lehner in three regular-season games and a playoff run that came up short. Plus it caused quite a bit of drama during the playoffs which may have impacted the team’s performance and definitely impacted the way fans view the organization. Either way, the Golden Knights front office will have broken their “no rental” rule and won’t have achieved the outcome they intended.
The Golden Knights would turn the keys back over to a goalie they benched in the playoffs and remain in a position where the goalie of the future is a question mark (actually even more so with Subban now a Blackhawk).
Oh, and there’s also that whole sword with DeBoer’s name on it thing that might be a little awkward too.
Retain Fleury. Re-Sign Lehner.
Let me just start out by saying while I understand the logic many have behind backing this option, it’s an absolutely horrendous idea as it is guaranteed to negatively impact the Golden Knights’ chances to win the Stanley Cup in 2020-21 compared to any of the previous options.
Vegas would be looking at upwards of $12 million in cap space tied up to a position that can have only one starter per night. Sure it may work out nicely in the regular season (even that’s debatable), but come playoff time the Golden Knights will be forced to sit at least $5 million of salary cap space on their bench every single night. That cap space could instead be used to upgrade a position that will play every game.
The Golden Knights were wiped out of the playoffs by the Dallas Stars in five games and went through an eight-game scoring drought that pretty clearly proved the roster needs improving this offseason. Keeping both goalies not only means they will have no cap space to improve the roster, but they’ll actually have to move a current piece out just to remain cap compliant. All so that they can have a minor upgrade during the regular season and no upgrade at all in the playoffs.
This is a terrible idea, even if your heart tells you otherwise.
Re-sign Lehner. Buyout Fleury
This is an option you’ll likely hear thrown around a lot, especially considering today is the official opening of the buyout period, but this option should only be considered by Vegas as an absolute last resort (and even then they should keep working to try and come to a better conclusion).
Let me first explain how a buyout works in the NHL. Prior to each season, teams have the option to end a player’s contract by buying it out. The team owes the player 2/3rds of the remaining contract and the player is no longer a member of that team. The team is charged against the cap for that player’s salary over the course of the next four seasons.
So, in the case of Fleury, the Golden Knights would owe him $8.33 million in actual salary and would have $9.83 million charged against the salary cap over the next four seasons. It would save them about $4 million in both 20-21 and 21-22 but would cost an extra $2 million in 22-23 and 23-24.
In other words, if the Golden Knights were to buyout Fleury, a cap hit of more than $2.5 million would remain on the Vegas cap for 20-21. Add in whatever Lehner signs for, plus the backup and you’re looking at around $9 million in cap space towards goalies. Vegas would have gone from Fleury and Subban making $8 million to Lehner and a league minimum backup making closer to $9 million. And that’s just this year. They’d still be paying Fleury against the cap for the next three seasons as well!
Fleury would then be free to sign with any other team in the NHL, likely at a number closer to $2 million than $7 million, and the Golden Knights receive absolutely nothing in return.
This option would turn what has already a nightmare into a complete unmitigated disaster. Vegas would be paying for Fleury against the cap for the next four years all while he is suiting up for another team or maybe even retired.
Whatever happens, if you hear the words buyout and Fleury in the same sentence, know that the Golden Knights royally s**t the bed.
How does the fact the 20-21 season will be compacted with travel issues and more back to backs enter into the discussion?
It shouldn’t. Every team will have to deal with the same issues. Cheap ackup goalies can get the job done if you give then the chance. (Ever heard of Thatcher Demko… From San Diego.)
I realize every team faces this issue, more so in the west. Having a strong backup or 1B will be an advantage during the year. Not every inexpensive back up will perform like Demko (of whom I have heard) over the course of the season.
It shouldn’t, but it will if they play a full 82 game schedule. If they cut the season to 60 games or so, then it may not matter as that would limit the number of games a backup would play as well as allowing needed rest between games for teams. Either way teams with a 1A/1B tandem will have the advantage. With less games (thus less points) you can be out of the playoff picture with 3 or 4 losses (6-8 points) that you might suffer with an inferior backup.
Meh if they can pull off option #1, they’re going to look like geniuses.
I don’t see how they could possibly possibly pull off #2 in a way that makes sense. I feel like this is 100% the option that they’re certainly trying to make work in some way shape or form. I just don’t see how they can pull this off in a way that makes sense to all parties involved.
And the last two options are certainly not realistic.
I think they have to bite the bullet. Find some way to spin the ridiculous mistake that they made. And we’ll be able to let that Tatar situation look a helluva lot less bad than it was.
Ken here’s a long shot would Fleury be willing to renegotiate the last two years of his contract and can it be done? Just a thought.
Not allowed in the NHL.
OK my thought was I’m not a bean counter but there might have been some tax benefits by doing it. So much for that idea. Thanks Ken
However they dispatch Fleury the secondary marketplace will be on fire for the first game he plays against the Knights at T-Mobile.
I agree. Assuming the premise is accepted that Lehner is the answer VGK is looking for.
Agree Julie as I am not sure Lehner is the answer. Ken pointed out one as being not great but mgt may land up looking stupid in either case . They can’t refer to Lehner as an “elite” goalie and available in the same breath as that is 180 digress apart. Also if Ken could explain Fluery 2/3rd salary as buyout and he has two years at 7 million a year I can’t imagine the amt owe him would be 8.33 m as 2/3 of 14 million is 9,24m off about 900,000.
There’s so much more to it than just 2/3rds. Age, salary bonuses, years left, it all comes into play. I didn’t want this article to get bogged down by that so I tried to simplify it. The difference is negligible and no matter what, that option is still a complete shit show.
Given all Marc Andre Fleury did for this franchise (including making them a TON of money drawing many to the team and games), buying him out so that he can freely move on would be the right thing to do. VGK has been selfish enough and cost this capable veteran playing time, career records, continued success, to sit on their bench after doing all that, in favor of a guy that played 3 games prior the playoffs, and didn’t get the job done (and that frankly is a moot point). They owe Fleury. In this situation, what’s good for them should be being good to him.
Don, I am encouraged that they have Foley as the owner. However it works out, I see Foley grateful for what Fleury has done for VGK. I believe that carries weight as does age, salaries, etc.
The tweet by Walsh isn’t worse than how the goalie mismanagement led up to it.
you don’t buy him out. if u do, u only save 4.4m (2020/21), 3.9m (2021/22) agnst CAP. Then, when his orig contract would have been over, u now carry penalty of 2m+ (2,083,333) in 2022/23 and same $$ amt again 2023/24. So, 4m+ CAP hit for 2 yrs on a player not even on the roster. Not the best approach … the net/net long term view on this, if you look at it logically, is basically you rid 14m to take on 11m over 4 years, and 2 of those years you don’t even have the player …
You make it understandable. Hockey nerds rock.
All this is moot until Lehner makes a move. If he signs, you eat $3M and trade Fleury. If he doesn’t sign and looks to free agency and bigger bucks (not sure he commands much more than the 5X5, then you have Fleury. Fleury will be a loyal team player despite DeBoer if DeBoer doesn’t become the east end of a horse going west. There could be a non-essential asset thrown in to the trade. Time will tell if the deals are not already in the works.
Any plan that involves resigning Robin Lehner should be scrapped immediately. No other team he has played for has wanted to keep him. Why should the Knights? To do so would be compounding the stupidity of signing him in the first place. He has nothing to offer the Knights.
Lehner is a URA. Turn him loose without an offer and my bet is no other team would pick him up. If they did their offer would be closer to $5 than $5 million.
McCrimmon needs to get rid of both Lehner and DeBoer. If he does not he should step down. The Knights deserve better than that trio.
You obviously recognize the problem that most everyone else has turned a blind eye toward. What is it that no other team he has played for didn’t want to keep him. Hope someone gives you an answer as that question has fallen on deft ears up till now. Lehner is not the vegas solution. Interesting comment concerning McCrimmon. Let Lehner try URA it could result in Vegas getting a cheap backup goalie when no other team takes the bait if they are so bound and determined to take on the liability. Smart businesses limit liabilities to a minimum. There is no question Mr. Foley is a smart businessman.
Hd – Lehner’s past personal issues are a large factor. Also, team caps – example Hawks: Crawford suffering from concussions, unsure of his status, so they obtain Lehner for 1 year at $5M (which they never would have paid if he was a bum as you suggest). Crawford seems to be fully recovered and Hawks don’t have cap room to pay both Lehner & Crawford. So they trade Lehner to Vegas. Don’t know why that’s so hard to grasp. Why do all you Lehner haters forget that he was a Vezina finalist in 2018? Look at his save% over his career, playing mostly with crap teams like BUF, CHI and NYI (who 2 yrs ago made it into the playoffs on the strength of their goalie tandem). He had 4 shutouts in these playoffs as well. I’m a huge fan of MAF but distorting the facts about Lehner is not helpful.
HD, I want to run something by you…
Wikipedia says Lehner said when he denied the agreement between he and Vegas, he also said he’s talking with many other teams. So, what if there is a 6th option where it’s Lehner who gets a bit of a bidding war going among other teams because Vegas showcased him in the playoffs and this leaked “agreement” came out? And Lehner ends up bidding Vegas adios and perhaps more money? Then Fleury stays, and God forbid Vegas had to rely on that dreaded (sarcasm) AHL goalie Dansk or grab another up and coming goalie. Maybe it will be Lehner flipping the table here. I mean, if there is any truth to that answer he gave about talking to other teams now. Also, if he and Fleury are friends and/or he doesn’t want the pressure of this goalie drama, he may very well go to another team. What do you think?
Good morning Julie I have come to the conclusion you must be a suspense writer of novels – hope your smiling. Or maybe writing books on the Art of Negotiating. Maybe Lehner’s motive for mentioning talking with other teams was to improve and sweeten the potential deal with Vegas. I’m apparently the heir apparent for Fluery he’s making 7 million so why should I settle for 5? Just another thought. Frankly I can’t imagine a bidding war for him despite all the opinions on this site he’s elite. In all do respect to Mike SIG and others who provided lengthy explanations concerning the WHY other teams have walked away from him – after all he’s a Vezena Trophy finalist etc etc etc. doen’t address the why. The truth of the matter is none of the experts on this site or anywhere else for that matter have a any factual idea or answer as to the why and that question in all probability will never get answered – Lehner suspects or knows, the other teams know but they are not talking nor should they. Everyone wants to make this a personal matter like if you don’t agree Vegas should sign him your a Lehner hater. or he’s a bum etc which is not the case. There is no question Mr. Foley is a smart businessman and smart businesses limit their liabilities the best they can – they always equate investment to reward. It will be interesting to see how this all comes down.
As a side note did you happen to see the post from an X shark fan who indicated the best thing Vegas could do was rid themselves of PDB. Whoever posted that got some less than friendly responses. Opinions are like A– holes everyone has one.
I did see it, HD. You know, I had Chinese food last night, and the fortune in the fortune cookie actually said, “Never argue with fools”. Ha, I got a kick out of that. I think April is a strong person simply because she put her opinion out there. And I agree with her about PDB.
This goalie thing really is divisive, isn’t it? I mean, we’re just a small sampling of at least 18K fans and everyone is in a tizzy. Maybe the covid stuff is a factor and everyone just wants their version of happiness here because that virus stuff can be oppressing. Really, instead of arguing, we should get a pool going – you know, who is going and where and for how much, etc. Winner gets bragging rights for the whole year.
Jink – you sound like a Sabres or Sens fan that decided to become a VGK fan. Lol. Not much in your post worth debating, as your assertions lack reason. But hey, we’re all entitled to express our opinions on this site!
No. I was a Panthers fan. 🙂
Oscar Dansk as Lehner’s backup?? He is already on the roster.
They very well may sign another goalie to compete with Dansk.
Ken, it’s been suggested that Vegas could waive Fleury. That would eliminate having to retain salary and also make it most likely he would end up on a team that would not be a contender. I don’t want to see Fleury go, but I thought waiving him was an interesting idea.
If someone wants him, they’ll find a trade. If no one is willing to pay the whole $7 million, he’d clear waivers.
I could see OTT claiming him. They’re a cap floor team and won’t be resigning Anderson. They’d have first crack at Fleury (after DET whose #1 Jimmy Howard is UFA).
Yes – I think that Ottawa is the perfect destination. Close to Quebec for MAF, and they could use him to sell tix and “hope” for the franchise. Only problem is that Ottawa is terrible, so hopefully MAF doesn’t have a limited trade clause with a list of can’t-be-traded to teams (???).
Don’t – I wasn’t talking about trade, it was waiving Fleury. The order of preference claiming a player off waivers is worst team first. So Detroit would have first crack, then Ottawa, and so on. Dennis Bernstein (TFP) had suggested waivers as a possible way Vegas could go. From Jesse Granger’s interview with Fleury it sounded like his priority is more to play as #1 goalie than to win another cup.
I don’t see why the buyout is such a bad idea.
At the end you get a better, younger goalie at the cost of 7.5 mil, 8 mil, 7 mil, 7mil and 5mil over 5 years. That’s not much more than Fleury was making, and the contract just gets better.
You don’t have to give up a draft pick. Fleury can choose where he goes.
Sounds good to me.
Mike – first off and for the record l am not a Lehner hater nor have l said he’s a bum as you purposed. I just don’t believe he is the be all and end all for Vegas or the solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Do they need a good backup absolutely as an insurance policy one for 5 million l don’t think so. I have never said anything about his personal issues. People like yourself bring that stuff up not me. I wasn’t impressed with his and Reaves antics during the playoff which is not to say l don’t believe there isn’t a social justice issue. I am fine with protests in there place that’s an American privilege – l don’t condone burning, looting and rioting nor do l think what some of these other activities accomplish IMO they actually do the opposite. You made reference to team caps – if l am not mistaken Vegas is seriously one of them. If Lehner was that GOOD don’t you think one of these other teams would have stepped up. Enjoy your opinion but would suggest not implying things that aren’t factual or true. Your remark concerning why is that hard to grasp is grasping at straws and doesn’t really address the WHY. Talk about cap etc is the obvious. If someone is really that good hurtles can be overcome. Bottom line l just don’t believe he is the Vegas solution and that doesn’t imply l am a MAF supporter – a team support yes individuals are only as good as the team.
If you don’t support burning, looting, rioting, etc, then you should be onboard when Lehner and Reaves peacefully protest social injustice.
Better re- read what was said. Based on your comment you obviously didn’t pay attention to what followed – in there place. They were there to play hockey and win the Cup not use the activity for political purposes. From reading g some of the stuff on this site those same feelings were expressed. Guess you missed those.
Honestly, the way you write, it’s a little hard to understand. Sorry.
Do you feel they didn’t win the cup because they took a knee?
Do you think if Lehner doesn’t win the cup or win the Vezina he’s not our solution in goal? You think that’s a reasonable bar to set?
Hd – let me speak more plainly. It was his mental health issues that presented a concern for GMs who may have considered whether to give him a contract with term. Nothing to do with BLM. The Hawks are a perfect example of how limited cap space didn’t allow them to offer Lehner a contract, once it became clear Crawford is truly healthy again. He’d been their goalie for multiple cup wins so it would be ridiculous to think they’d unload Crawford for Lehner (or anyone else). That IS the WHY. Also, I find your refusal to acknowledge Lehner’s historically excellent numbers and his Vezina consideration puzzling. You’re entitled to say whatever you want obviously. It’s a FACT that Vegas needs to find MAF’s eventual successor. Lehner is a great option and young enough to be a solid #1 for the coming 5-7 years. Subban wasn’t the guy, and if Fleury is injured for an extended period next year Dansk will NOT be an adequate replacement. Nor is Oscar the future #1. There are obviously a handful of better goalies out there but Lehner is easily Top 10 in the league. Vasi or Hellebuyck or CP31 will never be available to Vegas. So they have a chance to sign a Top 10 goalie now – it would be foolish and shortsighted to not consider signing him for the team’s future. Fleury is still a quality goalie but each year the possibility of an extended injury or declining performance increases, so a true 1A/1B tandem (like DAL, BOS, NYI) makes sense. Run of the mill goalies like Mrazek, Reimer, Rittich, Talbot, Jones, Koskinen will never get you a cup.
Mike – Who said anything about BLM – certainly not me so I don’t know why you would be bringing that up addressing conversation. In all do respect you nor anyone else other than those directly involved have a clue as to why the other teams walked away. Unless of course you are a mine reader which I would seriously question. I just don’t believe he is the solution Vezina finalist years ago or not – he didn’t win, he didn’t win the cup in goal for the other teams, he didn’t win the cup this year in goal for Vegas. Had he faced the number of shots regardless where they came from that Vegas poured on the competition in the play -off I am certain his stats like you want to reference would be substantially different. Your stats speak to yesterday- Vezina is yesterday – did he get the award no. I just don’t believe the risk/investment will result in the reward you point out IMO.
Hd – you brought up the political stuff with Reaves & Lehner in your response to my post that mentioned personal issues. I was just clarifying that I was referring to the mental health issues and not anything else. And you’re right, I’m not a mind reader and my opinions are only based on what insiders & media have reported. If you don’t think Lehner is the answer I respect that. You mention that his past record is the past and shouldn’t be a basis for future dealings – or at least that’s how I understood what you were saying. My only response to that is how else does a team assess a player’s potential value other than mostly what he has done in the past? Binnington, CP31, Bob all got big payoffs based on their past performance. I’m not sure Lehner is the answer either but his consistent high level of play over the last 5-6 years means something. One thing IS fairly certain – Vegas needs to start planning for Fleury’s eventual replacement.
As a huge fan , I know my opinion doesnt matter but it saddened me to my core to watch Marc Andre Fleury. It changed the excitement of watching games for me. I travel to Vegas from California several times a year to see the Golden Knights play and I was not familiar really with Lehner until this happened. I want Marc Andre to stay and Lehner to go. Obviously if the goalie was the issue they’d be in the finals playing the Lightning today. I grew up supporting the San Jose Sharks being in California my whole life and I feel the real issue with the golden Knights is Peter Deboer. All the years in San Jose did he win a Stanley Cup? Nope! Let’s be real. The change happened when he came and he caused the turmoil. My vote is for him to hit the road! It will spare the Golden Knights from being in the playoffs like San Jose the next 10 years just to end up losing and making the finals.
Sorry. I meant not making the finals. Typo. Lol.
Embarrassing post. Please go back to rooting for the Sharks. Next!
ITA Getting rid of DeBoer should be the first priority.
I know it’s not likely but I hope Lehner signs with another team forcing Vegas to keep Fleury. We will never win a Cup with Lehner and I’d hate to see us waste the next 5 years of potential. If its up to McCrimmon and DeBoer though, I don’t see any way that he’s not our #1 goalie though. Please Robin….if you really love Vegas, do the fans a favor and take a deal elsewhere.
Dean, I am with you. It is time to cut the drama and let Lehner walk. Find a great young talent to come in to back up Flower. DeBoer was not an upgrade either. So many crazy moves (Bellamare, Perron, Haula)…. The team has gotten older, not better under this front office panic.
If the Pietrangelo signing doesn’t work out, I really hope VGK finds a way to trade Fleury to the Hurricanes. The Canes need a goalie and some scoring depth. They have a ton of defensive depth (including Dougie Hamilton, who will be a UFA after next season and is probably a better long-term bet than Petro if he’d sign an extension). So a trade could look something like Fleury and Marchessault (or Pacioretty) for Hamilton. They don’t have a lot of bad contracts for us to take back the other way, so they’d probably also want a 2nd or a prospect to eat that much salary (even though they can afford it). Still it seems like a way to send Fleury to a place that can win and end up with VGK getting something great in return.
ONE FANS DREAM SOLUTION.
( yes I know it is an impossible fantasy but I can still dream)
1 Put out an offer to any team in the league, we will accept a 4th round draft pick in exchange for DeBoer and McCrimmon.
2 Rehire Gallant.
3. Assuming the league decides on an 82 game season over 4 months that would mean:
20.5 games per month per team , if no team ever gets more than one day off between games, every team would average 5 to 6 back to backs a month.
That means the schedule for next season would favor keeping both goalies and giving each of them 41 starts. (depending on injury) When we get to the playoffs we will have 2 #1 goalies that are in mid season form. Most other teams would be relying on an already overworked starter.
Making the cap space work will be painful but we have cheap talent at the Silver Knights that deserve a shot and we will have to cut an expensive contract no matter what we do.
4. The team should issue an apology to the fans and the city from team management for the blunders that were made this year. (Firing
Galant, hiring DeBoer and screwing over Fleury after he got the team into the playoffs for the 3rd straight season.)
As a season ticket holder, I 100% agree. This front office went totally nuts after that major penalty 4 goal fiasco in round 2 against the Sharks last year. The panic in the front office is responsible for the instability in this team. I vote to dump Lehner, keep Flower and find a great young talent to come in to back up for 2 years. DeBoer? Cannot stand the style of play he brings to the ice. Lots of shots but no high event dangerous shots. He’s strictly old school. Enter the zone, set up, and pass pass pass. Totally different than the quick strike high chances that the Misfits brought to bear on defenses. I miss Gallant, but he’s gone and likely wouldn’t come back even if asked. Other front office mistakes were Perron, Haula and Bellamare. This team got older and not better. Very disappointed.
I am not sold on Robin Lehner as the “guy”. Of course, I am not the coach, but hear me out. The difference in terms of performance between Flower and Panda is not great. Flower still has 2 good years left in him. This complete panic mode by the VGK front office created this goalie fiasco and I believe it was totally unnecessary. What you said stands. The Panda played well here, but I haven’t seen enough of him to say that he is better than Flower right now, or that he ever will be. For me, personally, I think bringing in Panda, and DeBoer for that matter, was a complete panic move and not very well thought out. This team has become more and more unstable month-by-month. I vote to let Lehner walk and try to bring in a great young talent to back up Flower for 2 years.