Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury met with the media today to discuss a tweet that came out Saturday from his agent Allan Walsh of the goalie being impaled in the back with a sword, suggesting the veteran is unhappy with his current backup role with the team. Fleury said he has no interest in being a distraction to the team and his agent was just defending him. He asked his agent to remove the tweet and Walsh did that.
“Regarding that picture that came up, I just wanted to say that Allan has been my agent for a long time,” said Fleury (via The Athletic’s Jesse Granger). “I’ve known him since I was 15. I really appreciate his passion for the game. I think it was a way to defend me for not playing much, but I’m here to win with my team.”
Fleury, who will likely be 36 years old when the 2020-21 season begins, played in just one game during the team’s five-game series with the Chicago Blackhawks as the Golden Knights and head coach Peter DeBoer have put their faith in trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner instead. Lehner hasn’t allowed more than three goals in any playoff game, including two of the team’s round-robin games against the top Western Conference teams. Fleury did perform well in his one game against the Blackhawks, holding Chicago to one goal and posting a .963 save percentage. While many expected a even split between the two goaltenders when Vegas acquired Lehner for a second-round pick, Malcolm Subban and prospect Slava Demin, that hasn’t been the case as DeBoer seems to prefer Lehner.
Of course, this has happened only one other time in his career when Fleury lost his job in Pittsburgh to Matt Murray, which prompted a move to Vegas in the first place. It’s also interesting to note that when asked whether he knew that his agent was going to post the picture, Fleury declined to answer, which does suggest he’s not happy with his current role on the team.
Fleury said he spoke to general manager Kelly McCrimmon and DeBoer Saturday. Fleury, known as a leader in the locker-room, said it was a good talk and it was made clear that he didn’t want to be a distraction during the Golden Knights playoff run in which they have lost just once in eight playoff games so far (including the round-robin).
“I’ve known these guys for a little while now,” said Fleury (via NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika). “I just want to put this behind and move on. All I care about is winning and what’s best for the team and I think they know that.”
Regardless of the outcome for the Golden Knights, the team could find themselves in a interesting situation. While Fleury is likely the most loved player on the Golden Knights’ team, Vegas doesn’t have enough money to pay both Fleury and Lehner, who will be an unrestricted free agent. Fleury still has two years remaining at $7MM. While his numbers have been solid recently, he hasn’t been the dominant player he once was in the team’s inaugural season. He appeared in 49 games with the team during the regular season, but had one of the worst save percentages in his career at .905.
With the team cap strapped for the next couple of years and with Fleury aging, the team likely will have little money remaining to pay for a solid backup goaltender to help take the load off Fleury during the regular season, which could be a problem with Vegas designed to win over the next couple of years. The team might be better off with a younger goalie like Lehner, who is just looking for a home, but would Vegas even entertain the idea of trading Fleury and would anyone want him at the price tag?
However, Vegas is in a good position for this postseason with two solid netminders and Fleury is more than capable of taking over the series at any point and reclaiming his spot as the team’s No. 1 goalie.