Marc-Andre Fleury is not the Flames’ answer in net

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.

  • JoelOttosJock

    Fleury is a significant upgrade on our goaltenders in Calgary. Not a horrible contract t and someone to play and help groom Gillies. Bring in a goalie who knows how to win, and who hasn’t had his best years because of a defence first and best defence core in the league (elliot)

  • BlueMoonNigel

    The wildcard in the Fleury Stakes–if we can call it that–is Toronto. The Leafs rebuild has progressed much quicker than anybody predicted. Barring a season-ending collapse, the Leafs are going to make the playoffs. They might even win a round especially if they play the Caps, but this will not be their year. However, next year and beyond, possibly, which brings me to my point. Upgrading what one position could make the Leafs immediately a much better team? Goalie.

    Andersen has not been the #1 they had hoped for. The buzz is that Andersen cannot handle nor does he like playing under the intense pressure in TO. This is not a knock on him. It is just that some guys can deal with pressure more than others. Kid Matthews for example just loves the media and fan scrutiny and thrives on it. Because the Leafs are much further ahead in their rebuild than they had expected, plus they are paying M&M peanuts for the next couple of seasons, it is not at all unrealistic that Fleury ends up in TO prior to next season.

    Why should Flames fans care? Fleury to TO means a new home for Andersen and with 4 years and $20M remaining on his contract after this season, he would not break the Flames bank. As a Duck, Andersen always played well against the Flames, so as the adage tells us, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” If nothing else, Andersen backstopping the Flames in Anaheim would be an interesting site.

    The other name Flames fans might want to pay more attention to is Shaky Jake Allen. If Benny Bishop does indeed pine for the Ol’ Miss, and he signs his mega contract with the Blues, that means Shaky Jake is expendable and with $17M over 4 years remaining, that would be a cap hit the Flames could easily absorb.

    Do not be surprised if Andersen or Allen is the Flames #1 when the 2017-18 season opens in October. Just remember where you heard it first.

  • Greg

    Fluery totally is the flames answer… if he refuses to waive his NMC for Vegas and no other team will take his contract so the pens become forced to trade Murray instead. 🙂

  • The GREAT WW

    Why don’t they just hold on to both goalies for the playoffs, then trade Murray or ask Fleury to waive his NMC when their playoff run is over?

    Why trade either before the trade deadline?


  • BlueMoonNigel

    If all continues to go as planned, Pitt expects a deep playoff run. It wouldn’t be a shock to see them in the finals again. If you accept this assumption, it makes no sense for Pitt to get rid of Fleury at the trade deadline. Keep him for the expected long playoff run because clubs need 2 goalies and Pitt knows exactly what it has in both Fleury and Murray.

    Fact: no player will get selected by the Knights without prior approval of the player’s team. Leading up to the expansion draft will be sweetheart deals galore, so the Knights will only take players they have been authorized to take. McPhee is an old school GM, so he is already part of the old boys’ network and knows the rules of the game very well. Pitt only loses Fleury or Murray in the draft if Pitt wants to lose him, and they don’t.

    Conclusion: Fleury remains a Pen after the trade deadline. Fleury and Murray remain Pens after the expansion draft. Fleury may be moved in the summer if the right deal comes along. What you want to look at is any team that enters the playoffs highly ranked but is quickly out in the first round. If the fast exit can in any way be attributed to the goaltending and the team has had suspect goaltending all season, there’s a very possible destination for Fleury.

  • Denscafon

    Ya completely agree with what Ari is saying in this article. It actually probably makes more sense for the pens to keep Fleury as a backup for the playoffs and have his contract disappear in the off season with the hopes Vegas does choose him. Sure he has name recognition but this is a “what can you do for me now” league.

    • supra steve

      “keep Fleury as a backup for the playoffs and have his contract disappear in the off season with the hopes Vegas does choose him.”

      Can’t happen. Fleury’s NMC means whoever owns his playing rights…has to protect him in the expansion draft. That would leave a 22 year old Stanley Cup champion (Matt Murray) unprotected…and Vegas would take Murray.

      Pens need to move Fleury. Or Murray?

    • supra steve

      I think you are missing that Fleury’s NMC forces whatever team owns his rights to protect him in the expansion draft. Vegas won’t get a chance to “choose him”. For the Pens, that would mean leaving 22 year old Stanley Cup champion Matt Murray unprotected. So how then do they make Fleury’s “contract disappear in the off season”…before the expansion draft? What other clubs could take on such a contract, both in terms of the cap hit as well as being free to protect him in that draft?

      Could it be done? Perhaps, but it’s a game of chicken that some would want to be out of sooner rather than later, so keeping him for the playoffs may not be possible for the Pens.

  • cjc

    I think Pittsburgh will need to trade Las Vegas something (First and Guentzel?) in order to protect Murray.

    Pittsburgh could also retain salary on Fleury in order to make him more attractive. Fleury would only waive to go to another contender though, even in the offseason – are there any contenders that need goaltending help though? Not really.

  • Despo

    Sure Fleury has a tough season, but what are you guys looking for? A new 3-4 year deal for Johnson or Elliott for 4+ mio? Bishop for more years and more money? Lehtonen or Niemi? Thx and next….

    The Pens need to trade Fleury so there will be some bonus on a deal. May it be a prospect which doesn’t need protection (Sprong?), they give up a guy like Pouliot or they retain some money.
    Yes Fleury is on a high contract, but he would give us some time to develop Gillies.

    If we could land a deal like Elliott or Johnson for Fleury, Sprong and 20% salary stays at PIT I would pull the trigger.

    • freethe flames

      Nothing I have read suggests that the Penguins are so desperate to move Fleury that they would pay someone to take him. Also I doubt any of your other options are happening: none of Elliott, Johnson or Bishop have had the kind of seasons that warrant long term high price tag contracts. They may want them but if a GM does the type of contracts you suggest then they should be fired.

  • freethe flames

    Canucks lose tonight, Stars look like they will lose as well. If the Flames can go into Vancouver and win that would pretty much do it. Teams that are out of it have to start selling soon you would think.

    • Ogie Oglethorp

      Dallas, Winnipeg and Vancouver are done. lets say the cutoff is 92 points.

      To get there, according to sports clubs stats:

      Winnipeg has to go 16-3-3
      Vancouver 17-5-4
      Dallas 18-4-2

      Not happening…. and that’s just to get to 92 which may not get it done.

      This race is down to 9 teams. And barely… this road trip could be the season.

      Also, 100% agree with this article. No thanks to an overpriced old guy.

      • The GREAT WW

        In other words; you have to be 10 games over .500 at seasons end to get into the playoffs (92 points).

        Right now the Flames are 3 games over .500, the Canucks are 2 games under .500…..


  • dontcryWOLF88

    #rank in nhl by save percentage:

    1 Jimmy Howard DET 398 (shots saved) 426 (total shots) 0.934

    23 Carey Price MON 1,167 1,272 0.917

    34 Chad Johnson CGY 804 882 0.912

    36 Henrik Lundqvist NYR 1,070 1,174 0.911
    37 Ben Bishop TB 746 820 0.910
    43 Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 790 874 0.904

    54 Brian Elliott CGY 679 756 0.898

    From this info, im really not sure I would be looking for a new goalie at all. You look at the difference in save percentage of Price and Johnson and we are talking (0.5% difference) . So for every 200 shots CAREY PRICE has stopped 1 more than JOHNSON. Thats a pretty small difference, even though Price has faced significantly more shots than Johnson.

    My point is, I think there is still credible reason to continue supporting the current tandem who will likely be cheap to re-sign in the offseason.

  • deantheraven

    Hell yes, I’m saying No!
    Our current tandem will get sorted and next year we’ll either have one or both of them. Tricky thing with the expansion draft followed by FA Day. I’m anxious to see what Tre does.

  • Eggs Bennett

    Suits pittsburg right for being too greedy last off season. 6 overall? Hah they will wish they can give up a 6 overall to trade Fleury and keep Murray this off season.

  • freethe flames

    When will Pittsburg get the best value for MAF? From a team that thinks they have a chance with him this year? Or after the playoffs? Stars, Jets, and St L need a goalie as bad as we do. When will Tampa move Bishop? Is he a better short term fit here? Again what would be the cost?

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Yikes and Big NO ~ Eric Francis reported the Penguins asked the Flames for their first round pick for Fleury – sixth overall. ~ That would be Tkachuk… lol No No No, I don’t Think so! How about Bouma and PIT’s retain 1/2 MAF’s salary… IMO When a #1 has lost his job and used as the Back-up He really shouldn’t be looked at as a #1 anymore. His #s are worse that Both the guys we have right now and he has the PIT team in front of him Not This Flames team… PIT really has zero leverage here and after the poor return we got from the Iggy trade with them… Actually, Just No, we don’t need another Hiller “type” past his prime and way too expensive goalie for this teams future esp for the next two years. Tkachuk for Fleury?? What a Joke!

  • PrairieStew

    Don’t throw Brian Elliott under the bus. You must remember the first three games of the year were a tire fire on defence. Elliot was tagged with 14 goals on 87 shots – with multiple odd man rush situations. Take those 3 games out and he’s at .910 and a 2.55 average – decent value on the $2.5 M. Fleury would not provide the value that the $5.75 cost would warrant.

    • everton fc

      Exactly. Elliott’s younger. So is Johnson.

      We have Elliott or Johnson… Rittich, who may be ready for a test drive next season (or if one of the two we have goes down, he’d have to be the guy, I’d assume)… Gillies… Parsons down the road…

      We don’t need another aging goalie who may end up like Hiller here.