The Chicago Blackhawks currently have a 14-18-5 record and are seventh in the Central Division. Their playoff chances aren’t looking too promising, so it seems more likely that they will be sellers once we inch closer to the trade deadline. Out of all their rental candidates, there isn’t one who carries more value than future Hall of Fame goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury.
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After a very slow start to the regular season, Fleury has since improved. In 25 appearances, he now has a 12-11-2 record, 2.84 goals-against average, and .911 save percentage. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner is certainly somebody contenders should pursue if they need an upgrade in net. With that, it doesn’t seem out of the question for the 37-year-old to want to have the chance to win one last Stanley Cup. If Chicago does decide to shop him, here are three teams who seem like potential landing spots.
Any goaltender on the market will be linked to the Edmonton Oilers right now. Starting goaltender Mike Smith has unfortunately been having a lot of trouble staying healthy and has missed the majority of the season. Mikko Koskinen started the year on fire as his replacement but has since cooled off rather dramatically. Although he has a 12-7-1 record, he also has a 3.19 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. With that, those numbers are also continuing to worsen. Stuart Skinner has done well, but if Edmonton wants to have a deep playoff run, adding a goalie like Fleury would be a better option.
Speaking of the playoffs, the Oilers are certainly no longer locks to make it right now. With their 18-14-2 record, they now have fallen to sixth place in the Pacific Division and aren’t showing signs of improvement. They not only have lost five straight contests but also are 2-6-2 over their last 10 games. Now is the perfect time for them to acquire an upgrade in net and Fleury should be one of their options.
For a deal to work, however, the Blackhawks would need to retain some salary and likely need to take at least one contract back. Yet, if Chicago could land themselves a solid return, it would be worth it.
After losing Philipp Grubauer in free agency to the Seattle Kraken, the Colorado Avalanche quickly acquired Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes. With the Avalanche thus far, the 31-year-old has an impressive 16-5-1 record but also has a rather low .905 save percentage. Colorado’s extremely deep lineup certainly is helping his record, but if he does not find his previous form, it could open the door for them to pursue Fleury.
At this time, the Avalanche also have Pavel Francouz as their backup. Like Kuemper, he has a winning record but also has an even lower .895 save percentage. The 31-year-old has also dealt with serious injury trouble and even missed the entirety of last season due to hip surgery. Thus, having a tandem of these two does create a lot of question marks once the playoffs come around. When looking at Fleury’s excellent resume, he could provide them with some much-needed help in that area.
The Avalanche have seen plenty of Fleury over the years, as he of course was previously on the Golden Knights. With Colorado looking to finally win a Stanley Cup with this core, it wouldn’t hurt to add a goaltender who has three rings himself.
Before being the Golden Knights’ franchise goaltender, Fleury had a marvelous tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Selected first overall by the team in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, he surely would go on to live up to it. In 691 games with them, he had a 375-216-68 record, a .912 save percentage, and a 2.58 goals-against average. With that, he lifted all three of his Stanley Cups there and also participated in two All-Star Games. From a feel-good story perspective, it would be so nice to see him return to the team where he began his career. It’s not like he left them on his own accord, either.
The Penguins would benefit from adding Fleury at this juncture, too. Although Tristan Jarry has been excellent this season, the same cannot be said about Casey DeSmith. In eight appearances, the latter has a 3-3-1 record, 3.47 goals-against average, and .888 save percentage. Needless to say, Pittsburgh needs an upgrade at the backup position. By bringing back Fleury, they would get far more than that. Instead, they would form one of the strongest 1A-1B tandems in the league.
During the Penguins’ last two Stanley Cup runs, they had Fleury in a similar role with Matt Murray. Although the veteran would see less time during those runs, he was still a very important part of them. Perhaps this is something the Penguins could remember and decide to do yet again. Yet, to get a deal completed, they would need to be creative to remain cap compliant.
It will be interesting to see if Fleury gets traded by the Blackhawks before the deadline. The veteran could be content with staying in Chicago and likely missing out on the playoffs, but at the same time, he does deserve one last shot at the Stanley Cup. Furthermore, the Blackhawks would also benefit from the return he would get them in a hypothetical swap. Alas, if he is indeed shopped, it wouldn’t be shocking to see one of these three teams involved in the sweepstakes.
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Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.