We’re just under two weeks away from the trade deadline, so the hope is that things will kick into gear soon. The expansion draft really complicates things, but there’s still bound to be movement at the deadline as teams gear up for the playoffs.
Hopefully the Flames will be one of those teams that makes the dance, but in case they’re not, then hopefully anything they do at the deadline will help their future, too.
Before they acquired Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, Marc-Andre Fleury was reportedly one of the goalies they were looking in on. They passed. But neither Elliott nor Johnson has exactly panned out, and so apparently, it’s… back to Fleury? At least according to Sportsnet, it very well might be.
To which I would just like to say: no.
This season, the Flames have a team save percentage of .901: good for 23rd in the NHL. It’s not as bad as it was last season, but it’s not exactly good, either. That the Flames would be exploring further goalie options makes sense, and there’s nothing wrong with kicking on as many tires as possible.
But Fleury isn’t the answer, neither for the short term, nor the long.
Let’s recap Fleury: he’s a 32-year-old goalie with a .904 save percentage this season. He carries a $5.75 million cap hit – that’s Dougie Hamilton money, for those keeping score – until the end of the 2018-19 season, by which time he’ll be 34.
Okay, so Elliott still hasn’t been able to push his season save percentage above .900, which is disappointing. And though Johnson’s .912 is well above Fleury’s in more games played this year, he’s never been an established starter like Fleury has.
But that’s forgetting a particularly key component: Elliott and Johnson are cheap and no-risk. Fleury is expensive and high risk. The best season of his career was last year, when he carried a .921 save percentage over the course of 58 games; look at how he’s followed that up so far. He’s arguably not even an upgrade in the short term, and is more likely to hurt the Flames rather than help them in the long term.
Fleury is being pushed out in Pittsburgh by Matt Murray, doubly so by the expansion draft. If the Penguins want to keep Murray – which, considering how he’s both young and good, they should – then they’ll have to trade Fleury before the expansion draft, because otherwise, his NMC would force the Penguins to keep him and expose the guy who’s usurping him.
That’s a Penguins problem, not a Flames one.
The only way in which the Flames trading for Fleury makes sense is if the Penguins are giving up something of value for them to take him, a piece that would help with one of their other needs in shoring up forward talent or their top four defence. Say a Jake Guentzel.
And that would make no sense for the Penguins to do. Why would they treat Fleury as a salary dump in the middle of the season, especially when they’ll likely at least want a reliable backup for the playoffs?
There’s no fit here, and Fleury isn’t the answer to the Flames’ problems in net, period.