When the Vegas Golden Knights signed Robin Lehner to a five-year, $25MM contract extension, it seemed certain that usurped starter Marc-Andre Fleury and his $7MM price tag would be elsewhere by next season. However, it has been weeks since Lehner’s signing and between the high cost of moving a contract like Fleury’s and concerns over Lehner’s recovery from upcoming shoulder surgery, it now seems more likely than not that Fleury will be back with Vegas next season. If this is indeed the case, the respected veteran is just fine with that.
Fleury tells Jean-Francois Chaumont in a recent piece by Le Journal De Montreal that he too assumed he would be elsewhere next season and is still a bit surprised that the Knights are committing so much cap space to their goalie tandem next season. The following is a translated except from his interview:
I was stressed. I watched the news, it wasn’t always good rumors for me. There are always a ton of rumors, but there aren’t many that come true… I still found it surprising as an outcome. My name was circulating quite a bit for a trade. But I am happy. I am lucky enough to stay in Vegas. I will still play for a good team. I won’t have to move, which is also a good thing… I am ready to share. This year, I also expect it to be a strange season. There will probably be several games in a few days, there will be a condensed schedule. I think not all teams will have the choice to use their two goalies. For this year, it will be a good thing to have two competitive goalies. It will give our team a good chance.
Fleury’s point about the likelihood of a condensed 2020-21 schedule explains both why there was interest from other teams in the high-priced veteran but also partly why Vegas decided to keep their duo together. Having two competent goalies will be crucial this coming season and the Knights realize, even with their talented roster, that a reliable tandem is key. Fleury himself even admits that Lehner is the future for the Golden Knights and will almost certainly serve as the “starter” once he is back to full strength. And the soon-to-be 36-year-old Fleury is also better off as a “backup” at this point in his career. However, with the high likelihood of fewer days off and more back-to-backs this coming season, it will be more of a 1A and 1B scenario for Lehner and Fleury and the pair could be one of the best goaltending combos in the NHL. What happens beyond next season – Fleury has an additional year remaining on his contract – remains a mystery, but Vegas has figured out their finances and are well-positioned in net for a busy 2020-21.