After the Expansion Draft most believed the Golden Knights best position was goalie. The combination of Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin Pickard would be able to keep Vegas in most games, even when they were being badly outplayed.
At least that’s what we thought.
Now a rash of injuries, a roster move, and 28 games into the season, the Golden Knights are back in a similar position of strength between the pipes, but in a much different situation. Since being claimed off waivers from the Boston Bruins, Malcolm Subban has done nothing but impress in the net. He’s 7-2-0 as a starter with a save percentage of .924. Subban is also 2-0 in shootout and has saved all nine attempts he’s faced.
Meanwhile, Fleury appears to be within days of his return and it’s long been considered that it’s his goal when he gets back. The question needs to be asked though, should it be?
There’s no question Fleury is the better goalie at this point in his career. He has three Stanley Cups, 375 career wins, 44 shutouts, and was pretty darn good before the injury (3-1, .925 SV%). But he’s also 33-years-old, coming off what we believe to be his third concussion.
There’s also a future to consider. Fleury’s cap hit is $5.75 million per year for the next two before he becomes a free agent. Subban, on the other hand, is 23-years old, flourishing in his first extended opportunity at the NHL level, and still has two years left on his entry-level contract ($650,000 AAV).
At this point in the season, the Golden Knights should have their sights set on one thing, making the postseason. They’ve clearly proven they are worthy of a place in the playoff picture and more than a third of the way through the year they hold a record of 7-2-0 against teams in Western Conference playoff positions and 9-1-0 against the division. Unlike what was expected when the season began, winning is now the goal.
So, the goalie that gives Vegas the best chance to win on any given night needs to be in the net. Here’s the way I’d play it moving forward, and how I believe the Golden Knights are likely to handle the situation. Quite simply, ride the hot hand.
When Fleury is ready, he should get a start, no matter how Subban played the game before. But once he gets back in there, his daily performance should be the determinant of how often he starts. If he’s great, he stays in, if he’s not Subban gets the next game. The same goes for Subban when he gets back in the net.
But what if it’s a tie, if they are both playing great or both struggling?
This is where the balance of the present and the future comes in. The future is Subban, the present could be either. So, and yes this is going to sound crazy after nine games, the benefit of the doubt should be afforded to Subban, not Fleury. If the decision of which goalie to play is tough, the default answer should be Subban, because he serves the present and the future.
No matter how confusing or challenging it may be for the coaching staff, this is a great position to be in for the Golden Knights. They’ve got a stud veteran goalie with tons of experience, and they’ve got a young goalie who may just be the future of the franchise. Plus, don’t look now, but they may just have the best trade chip at the deadline, and that chip’s name is not Neal, Marchessault, or Perron.
You make a very good point, as always. But to play a Flower chip at the deadline then leaves GMGM with Subban and Dansk/Lagace. That’s a bit dicey for a solid backup plan.
I say stay with what they have between the pipes with Flower and Subbi. Frankly—-why give up much of anything at the deadline when what they have appears to be on track to reach the Creators first goal 2 years early. GO KNIGHTS GO !!
And what’s with all the Twitter controversy from last night?
A lot of what happens may depend on Dansk. He played fantastic in his short time before being injured. But of course that is miniscule sample size. If Prior thinks Dansk is viable then that makes Fleury more tradeable. The more the headshed thinks Dansk is viable now then the more likely Fleury could be traded.
The only question is trade with who? Of those teams who are likely to be buyers at the trade deadline – most need scoring. Almost all need blue line depth. But most playoff contenders have decent goaltending. The ones with goaltending issues tend to have bad records and are more likely to be selling. Although of course md-season injuries could change that.
Kind of have to stay with the hot hand but watch out the Flower fanboys will be coming with their pitchforks and torches for you. In any event it’a great problem to have. I think flower gets moved in the offseason
Doesn’t Fleury have a no trade clause? He waived to be eligible for the expansion draft.
He has a modified No Trade Clause that allows him to veto a trade to 12 teams.
He waived the No Movement Clause for the Expansion Draft which keeps him from having to go to the AHL.
*Pitchforks & Torches*
No, no and no. Unless Fleury returns as nothing close to his old self after this concussion, he should not be going anywhere. And if he returns not up to par his trade value would diminish anyway.
Right now we really don’t know much about Dansk. He played well the short time here, but too much of an unknown yet. Subban has done great and yes should be considered the goalie of our future and #2 today. Lagace is just not ready for prime time yet, he may be in the future, but not yet. With 2/3 of the season left to play, if Fleury leads us to the playoffs, he should not be headed anywhere before or after this season except hopefully to his 4th Stanley Cup.
I like Fluery as much as the next man and have always liked his charisma and character. He does have a history of getting hurt with serious injuries and then he gets paid big dollars to return and sit on the bench. While he’s a top tier goalie, we have two very viable first team stoppers with Subban and Dansk. Subban has proven to be absolutely incredible when healthy, and Dansk was big surprise with his abilities as well. Trade Fleury now while he has some value, lower the cap, and keep the money for Subban and or other future long term knights.
Build this team with good youngsters worth the salaries for the future. Players like Fluery and Eakin are highly paid players who’s salaries would be more beneficial to guys like Tuch, Schmidt, Subban etc. Fluery’ s best years were the near past, his injuries are a libility.
Who is going to trade for Fleury unless he’s running real hot? No one wants to pay that kind of money for such a risk of injury and downside at his age. He’s not that old, but the high pressure mileage on him is immense. Seems like we’d have to retain some salary and give up some assets to have someone take him.
I think we need to be balanced more towards MAF starting because Subban has never been the “man” at a professional level before. He needs a full season like this one where he’s not playing more than a handful of games in a row and gets some time on the bench to watch the NHL game and be coached behind the scenes. He’ll get enough action as it is. And yes we’d all feel far better if Dansk was healthy, we can live with him as a backup this year. Max…not so much.
One of the reasons the Pens won the SC the last 2 years was that they had 2 great goalies. Fleury was also a great mentor for Murray in Pittsburgh. I would give Subban around 30 starts this year and then next year have him start around half of the games. I just can’t see trading him until they see Subban play for at least a year.