Penguins aren’t in rush to re-sign Fleury

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Although the Pittsburgh Penguins failed to live up to expectations in the 2014 playoffs, at least this time goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury escaped relatively unscathed. Before the 2013-14 campaign, Fleury had struggled in the Penguins’ recent postseason runs, which put his status as the team’s long-term starter into question.

It looks like his solid playoff showing hasn’t put that matter to rest though. New Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has defended Fleury and sees him as someone that could play between the pipes in Pittsburgh for years to come, but will he re-sign Fleury before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015? It seems we won’t know the answer any time soon.

“I’m not in a hurry to do a contract with him,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In fact, the 29-year-old goaltender’s contract status isn’t likely to be resolved before the start of the season.

That’s fine by Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh.

“We’re actually on the same page,” Walsh said. “It’s of no consequence at all.”

He added that Fleury wants to spend the rest of his career in Pittsburgh.

Related:

Rutherford: Mental game used to be difficult for Fleury, but he’s improved

Hurricanes sign Haydn Fleury to entry-level deal

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The Carolina Hurricanes have inked defenseman Haydn Fleury to a three-year, entry-level deal, per the team’s website.

Fleury, who was taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, can earn $832,500 annually at the NHL level and got a $277,500 signing bonus.

“(Fleury) performed very well at our development camp and we are looking forward to seeing him in Traverse City and during training camp in Raleigh,” GM Ron Francis said.

He’s facing an uphill battle to make the team in 2014-15 as Carolina has six blueliners signed to one-way contracts, not including Ryan Murphy. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, Fleury wouldn’t look out of place in the NHL from a physical perspective, but defensemen can take longer to develop than forwards and Fleury only has two complete WHL seasons under his belt.

He had eight goals and 46 points in 70 games with the Red Deer Rebels in 2013-14.

Ex-junior teammates Dumba, Fleury hope to stick in NHL this fall

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During the 2012-13 campaign, WHL Red Deer featured a pair of talented young blueliners in Mathew Dumba and Haydn Fleury.

Today, both sit as former first-round picks — Dumba seventh overall in ’12 (by Minnesota), Fleury seventh overall in ’14 (by Carolina) — and both are looking to be full-time NHLers when training camps break this autumn.

But their expectations are tempered by the reality of their situations.

“I want to be [with Minnesota] next season and I’ll do whatever it takes to be there,” Dumba said, per NHL.com. “But at the same time, looking at it with perspective, there’s a plan for me. Everything happens for a reason.”

“When you get drafted so high and you see top 10 picks make it the next year, that’s kind of one of your goals in the summer,” Fleury explained, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “I think at the same time I need to keep a level mind and realize not many 18-year-olds play in the NHL and it’s a big step, especially on defense.”

Of the two, Dumba, who turns 20 tomorrow, has the edge in experience. He’s been up with the Wild on a couple of occasions and made his NHL debut last season, appearing in 13 games. With the Wild only have seven d-men on NHL contracts at the moment — and two of them being Jon Blum and Christian Folin — it seems as though Dumba’s ready for a shot to stick in the bigs.

Fleury’s situation is a little more complex.

Though he boasts NHL size — 6-foot-3, 207 pounds — he only just turned 18 three weeks ago and is relatively green in terms of playing experience. What’s more, Carolina has six relatively experienced veterans on its blueline in Ron Hainsey, Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles, Andrej Sekera, Jay Harrison and the recently re-signed Tim Gleason. 2011 first-rounder Ryan Murphy will also presumably be up for the entire year, so it’s a crowded situation for Fleury to fight through.

According to new head coach Bill Peters, the ‘Canes won’t rush Fleury into the NHL.

“It’s going to be harder for a D-man than it is for a forward,” Peters explained. “We’re not going to be in a hurry. We’ll go step by step.”

Pens sign goalie Greiss — can he push Fleury?

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed goalie Thomas Greiss to a one-year, $1 million contract.

Greiss is not a big-name goaltender, but he’s put up impressive numbers in limited appearances as an NHL back-up. The 28-year-old has a career save percentage of .915 in 69 appearances with San Jose and Phoenix, and he went 10-8-5 with a .920 save percentage last year with the Coyotes.

Which, of course, brings us to Marc-Andre Fleury, the much-maligned 29-year-old who has one year remaining on his own contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent.

Barring a trade, Fleury will likely go into the season as Pittsburgh’s No. 1; however, it’s worth noting that he’s lost his starter’s job before, to Tomas Vokoun in the 2013 postseason. Not to mention, the Penguins have a new coach in Mike Johnston, and there is a significant level of ownership dissatisfaction with how the team has performed in the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009.

At the very least, if it’s a duo of Fleury and Greiss, the latter should push the former.

Rutherford: Mental game used to be difficult for Fleury, but he’s improved

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Before the 2013-14 campaign started, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had taken a lot of heat for his recent performances in the playoffs. Former GM Ray Shero backed the goaltender and Fleury rewarded him with a solid showing in the 2014 postseason, even if it wasn’t enough to save the Penguins or, for that matter, Shero.

Now that Jim Rutherford has taken over as the team’s general manager, he’ll have to decide what to do with the future of the Penguins’ goaltending as the 29-year-old netminder only has one season left on his seven-year, $35 million contract.

“The one thing I’ll say about Fleury is this past season was the best season, the most consistent season he’s had over several seasons, probably over three or four seasons,” Rutherford said, per NHL.com. “Other than a couple of goals in the Columbus series, I thought his playoff series performance was fine, his regular season was fine and from an ability point of view he’s a very, very good goalie.

“Going back a couple years, I think the mental part of the game was difficult for him, and certainly it seems that whatever he did in last offseason has strengthened his position, and I see him as a guy that’ll build off of last season and be as good or better next year.”

Publicly praising one of your players is one thing, but will Rutherford throw his full support behind Fleury by inking him to a contract extension over the summer? Or would he rather wait to see how Fleury does in the 2015 playoffs before attempting to re-sign him?

One obvious factor is what Fleury will demand. He currently comes with a $5 million annual cap hit, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he seeks a raise given that he’s set to rank 14th among goalies in 2014-15 from a cap perspective and he’ll slip further once Ryan Miller signs.