Marc-Andre Fleury will not be traded by the Vegas Golden Knights, general manager Kelly McCrimmon said Monday.
The 35-year-old goalie’s future with the Golden Knights was in doubt after they signed Robin Lehner to a five-year, $25 million contract ($5 million average annual value) on Oct. 3.
Fleury has two seasons remaining on a three-year, $21 million contract ($7 million AAV) he signed with Vegas on July 13, 2018. The NHL salary cap will remain $81.5 million for next season, which is targeted to begin Jan. 1, 2021.
“We see the goaltending position being incredibly important this year,” McCrimmon said. “Our goalies will be Robin and Marc-Andre. We all expect a schedule that’s going to be extremely compressed. And it’s easy for us to talk about it. Everybody expects that. But when you begin to live it, I think that the importance of two goaltenders is really going to be valuable.
“… Did we look at any number of possibilities? Sure, we did. But this was, at end of the day, the decisions that we made to move forward … based on some of those things I’ve just touched on.”
Fleury was selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season of 2017-18. When Vegas acquired Lehner on Feb. 24 in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had acquired him earlier that day in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks, McCrimmon said the plan was for Lehner to provide veteran support for Fleury.
But the 29-year-old supplanted Fleury as the No. 1 goalie in the postseason, starting 16 of 20 games during their run to the Western Conference Final, when they lost to the Dallas Stars in five games.
Fleury was 3-1-0 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in four postseason starts after he was 27-16-5 with a 2.77 GAA, a .905 save percentage and five shutouts during the regular season.
After seeing reports that Lehner might be signed to a long-term contract, Fleury on Sept. 24 said he wanted to stay with the Golden Knights.
“I get along great with Robin, so I think it would be all right. I still love to play,” Fleury told The Athletic. “I don’t think I just want to be a backup, but I’ll practice hard, try to play well, and hopefully get some games, but it always comes down to the coach’s decision. Whatever happens, happens. And that’s fine. I’ll just try my best to come to camp in good shape and do well from there.”
A three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017), Fleury is fifth in NHL history with 466 wins over 16 NHL seasons with Pittsburgh and Vegas. He is 466-266-80 with two ties, a 2.57 GAA, a .913 save percentage and 61 shutouts in 847 regular-season games, and 81-63 with a 2.58 GAA, a .911 save percentage and 15 shutouts in 146 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
McCrimmon said he does not see the relationship between the two goalies being an issue.
“Believe me, if it was, we would have made different decisions than we made,” McCrimmon said. “But I don’t expect that that’s the case, and as I said, we’re dedicating $12 million of cap space to our goaltending, and I think that is a lot. However, we’re at a point in our organization’s development where we do have more entry-level players on our team.”
Lehner will have shoulder surgery later this week but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, McCrimmon said. He was 9-7-0 with a 1.99 GAA, a .917 save percentage and four shutouts in the postseason.
“It’s more what we would call clean-up surgery, which is what happens with a lot of NHL players in the offseason,” McCrimmon said. “We don’t know the length of the offseason, I guess, to start with. But yeah, we’re expecting that he would be available for the beginning of training camp and the next season.”
On Monday, Vegas signed defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year, $61.6 million contract ($8.8 million average annual value) and traded defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika contributed to this report