Marc-Andre Fleury: Future Calgary Flames Starting Goalie?
Miikka Kiprusoff retired four seasons ago following the 2012-13 campaign. In that span, do you know what Jonas Hiller, Brian Elliott, Karri Ramo and Reto Berra all have in common? Failure to secure the number one goaltending job for the Calgary Flames. Since the one known as “Kipper” left Calgary, the search for the new number one goaltender has come up empty handed.
Time after time, the Flames have struck out on acquiring that stable goaltender. The Flames missed out on Cam Talbot a few years back at the draft. They also missed out on Frederik Andersen as well. The opportunity to get Ben Bishop came and gone, to no avail. They did acquire Brian Elliott last summer, but he failed to seize the job with authority. So who could be the answer to this long unanswered question of the number one goaltender in Calgary?
Marc-Andre Fleury COULD be the answer.
Model of Consistency The Flames Envy
Marc-Andre Fleury can be the solution to this never ending question that is plaguing the Calgary Flames, quality goaltending. The former number one draft pick in the 2003 NHL Draft has been the best goaltender that the Pittsburgh Penguins have ever had. A homegrown talent, Fleury grew through the Penguins organization while their team was coming out of the abyss of the standings.
Fleury not only helped grow with the Penguins, he has developed into one of the leagues most consistent starting goaltenders since his NHL debut in 2003. Fleury has amassed a total of 375 wins in the regular season over this span, sitting third amongst active goaltenders over this time frame. Marc-Andre Fleury wins hockey games. The Calgary Flames need a goaltender who can provide that consistency and reliability that a player like Fleury possess.
Struggles are behind him
Then again, there are the doubters of Fleury. Has Fleury struggled before in his career? Absolutely. He played poorly in the opening round series against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012. He struggled against the Montreal Canadiens in 2010 as well. This is all in the rear view mirror of his career. The 32 year old has seemed to have gotten better with age. He tied his career high of a .921 Save Percentage last season. While this season has been a disappointment, he has stepped his game up in the playoffs when called upon.
Fleury has turned around his disappointing regular season by posting an outstanding .928 save percentage in 13 games this postseason. He turned into a brick wall for the Penguins during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Washington Capitals. He turned away an onslaught of 29 shots from the Capitals during that victory. At points during that game, the Capitals threw all they could towards Fleury. Time and time again, he stood in tall and ended the Capitals dreams and hopes of their first Stanley Cup. On numerous occasions, Fleury has been the best player for the Penguins on numerous nights, especially that Game 7.
So what would it cost to get Marc Andre Fleury?
Honestly, the cost to receive Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins would not be relatively high. The Flames have the Penguins handcuffed, and it couldn’t be any more obvious. Matt Murray is the goaltender of the present and the future for the Penguins. The one road block for keeping Murray as that guy is well, Fleury and his No Movement Clause. As of today, the Penguins organization would have to protect Fleury in the expansion draft. This would leave Matt Murray exposed to be claimed by Las Vegas, which would happen if that is the case.
The Penguins will not allow this to happen. Therefore, a proper scenario for the Pittsburgh Penguins is to cut ties with Fleury via trade or buyout so they can keep Murray out of a Golden Knight uniform. Therefore, the Penguins will likely want to trade Fleury and his $5.75 million dollar cap hit. They would rather get a draft pick for him than rather buy out his contract or see him walk for nothing. Both Ben Bishop and Scott Darling’s contract negotiation rights were acquired for mid-round draft picks. While these guys were pending free agents, treat Fleury like one as well. The Calgary Flames have a prime opportunity to grab this goaltender, and they should take every opportunity to grab him.
Fleury is fit for the job…no doubt
Don’t look into his .909 career save percentage in the playoffs. Look at his recent body of work, and excluding his two sparse appearances in the 2016 playoffs, Fleury has possessed a .923 save percentage over his last three playoff runs as a starting goalie. Importantly, Fleury can play mentor to an upstart goaltender like Tyler Parsons or Jon Gillies in the same manner he did for Matt Murray.
Marc Andre Fleury can provide the stability that the Flames are looking for, and be that missing piece into making us a contender that the Flames can be next season.