Ilya Bryzgalov

Video: McKenzie talks suspensions, Fleury signing, Ducks linked to Bryzgalov

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Before the start tonight’s rivalry game between the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers on NBCSN, Bob McKenzie sat down to talk about a wide array of hot topics in the NHL. As you might suspect, Marc-Andre Fleury’s newly inked four-year extension and the Anaheim Ducks’ injury woes in goal came up.

One of the most interesting statements McKenzie made was the idea that the Ducks might sign free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. He’s a controversial choice after his disastrous tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he got his start with Anaheim and the team feels comfortable with him.

St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko’s upcoming contract negotiations were also discussed as his value continues to rise thanks to his explosive start.

You can watch that segment below:

Related:

What they’re saying about the Fleury extension

What they’re saying about the Fleury extension

Marc-Andre Fleury
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The Pittsburgh Penguins’ decision to sign Marc-Andre Fleury to a four-year, $23 million contract extension was met with mixed opinions.

There are reasons why Pittsburgh made this move. He’s had some solid campaigns, won a Stanley Cup, and the Penguins’ options weren’t appealing given the relatively weak projected free agent goaltending market in 2015 and the lack of appealing alternatives within the Penguins’ system. At the same time, he has struggled mightily in some of the Penguins’ playoff runs, which has led to some people to question his ability to consistently stand tall under pressure.

Dave Lozo argued the latter stance when he broke down the deal for the Bleacher Report:

The best thing anyone can say about Fleury at this stage of his career is that he has been average at his profession during the regular season for a very long time, but really, he’s been below average in recent years, even with his .931 save percentage in 12 games this season.

The real insanity, where it appears in its truest form, is the decision to invest four more years in Fleury despite his comically bad postseasons since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. It’s as if general manager Jim Rutherford is still bitter about the Penguins knocking his Hurricanes out of the conference finals on the way to that Stanley Cup and is now actively sabotaging the primes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Fleury has gotten off to a strong start this season with a 1.89 GAA and .931 save percentage in nine games, but given all that’s come before it, the Sporting News‘ Sean Gentille isn’t willing to assume that he’s embarked on a career year:

The worst-case scenario for Pittsburgh is that they’ve hitched their wagon to a goalie who can’t be relied upon to put together a complete, consistent, truly above-average season (he’s finished one of his 10 above .918) or avoid self-destructing in May. The feeling that they’ve done just that is also based on years of evidence, and if that’s the guy they just bought for five more years, no amount of equivocating is going to make the decision a smart one.

Not everyone has been critical of the Penguins’ decision to re-sign Fleury though. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun thinks inking him eliminates what could have been a big distraction hanging over Pittsburgh’s heads late into the season or playoffs. His colleague Scott Burnside also seemed okay with the move:

For me, it’s a simple question of what was the alternative? Let’s say the Pens moved Fleury in the offseason or at some point during this season because they wanted something different next spring. Who’s better? Ilya Bryzgalov? Nope. Martin Brodeur? Nope. Tomas Vokoun? He was terrific for the Pens in 2013 but, with his health issues, he’s not a real option long-term and maybe not even short-term.

Let’s say the San Jose Sharks and the Pens swapped netminders with Antti Niemi coming to Pittsburgh, how is that an upgrade even though both Niemi and Fleury have won Cups and are off to terrific starts this season? And let’s not forget that Fleury could hardly be blamed for the Pens’ collapse against the New York Rangers in the second round of last spring’s playoffs when they let a 3-1 series lead slip away, scoring just three times in the last three games. If the Penguins win another Cup in June, or even if they go to a final or a conference final, this deal will look fine. If Fleury reverts to the form he showed from 2010-13, well, that’ll be an entirely different story, and the pressure from ownership to make use of that limited no-trade clause will be significant.

Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir took a similar stance:

Would the Pens have preferred an upgrade between the pipes? I have no doubt. But the Rangers aren’t dealing Henrik Lundqvist. The Habs are holding on to Carey Price. Jonathan Quick will have grandkids before he leaves Los Angeles.

With Antti Niemi and Viktor Fasth headlining the Class of 2015 and Cam Ward and Jonas Hiller the top names in 2016, there was no help on the horizon via free agency.

Ultimately, it will be a while before we can say with any degree of certainty whether this deal will be to Pittsburgh’s benefit. Fleury is a gamble given his history, but perhaps he’s one that will pay off over the life of his new contract.

Four more years: Fleury signs $23 million extension with Penguins

Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a four-year, $23 million contract extension, the club announced today.

“I believe in Marc-Andre Fleury, as the team does,” said general manager Jim Rutherford. “He’s won before and he will win again. We’re very pleased to have him signed long term.”

Starting next season, Fleury, 29, will have a $5.75 million cap hit. Per CapGeek, there are currently 10 NHL goalies with a higher cap hit.

In terms of comparables, when taking into account both salary and term, Ryan Miller’s three-year deal ($6 million cap hit) with the Vancouver Canucks is an apt one, as is Semyon Varlamov’s five-year deal ($5.9 million) with the Colorado Avalanche and Jaroslav Halak’s four-year deal ($4.5 million cap hit) with the New York Islanders.

Fleury has been the subject of much debate in Pittsburgh. He back-stopped the Pens to the Stanley Cup in 2009, but has struggled during recent postseasons. His career playoff save percentage is a modest .905.

An excellent start to the 2014-15 campaign (7-2-0, .931 SV%) no doubt helped his chances of signing the long-term extension.

An unimpressive list of pending free agents, as well as Pittsburgh’s lack of NHL-ready prospects at the position, may also have helped.

Related: Rutherford on Fleury: ‘As long as I’m the GM, he’ll be our goalie’

Goalie nods: Greiss gets Wild, despite Fleury’s back-to-back shutouts

Anaheim Ducks v Pittsburgh Penguins
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News and notes from around the crease…

Fleury takes a seat

Interesting decision from the Penguins tonight, as they’ll give backup Thomas Greiss the start against the Wild at Xcel — even though Marc-Andre Fleury, the NHL’s reigning third star of the week, is in the midst of a two-game shutout streak.

The Penguins kick off a five-game roadie starting tonight and Greiss hasn’t played since Oct. 23, so there are some reasons to get him in. That said, Fleury has been nothing short of outstanding lately — he actually has three shutouts in his last four starts — and tonight’s game is one of Pittsburgh’s bigger tests; Minnesota is third in the NHL in goals per game (3.40) with a perfect 5-0-0 record at home, and the Penguins have some “easier” games on this trip, including a stop in Buffalo on Saturday.

For the Wild, Darcy Kuemper will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

Panthers at Bruins: Roberto Luongo vs. Tuukka Rask

Oilers at Flyers: Viktor Fasth vs. Steve Mason

Flames at Caps: Jonas Hiller vs. Braden Holtby

‘Canes at Jackets: Cam Ward vs. Curtis McElhinney

Wings at Sens: Jimmy Howard vs. Craig Anderson

‘Hawks at Habs: Corey Crawford vs. Carey Price

Blues at Devils: Jake Allen vs. Cory Schneider

Preds at Jets: Carter Hutton vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Kings at Stars: Kari Lehtonen for Dallas, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

Canucks at Avs: Ryan Miller vs. Semyon Varlamov

Leafs at Coyotes: Mike Smith for Arizona, Jonathan Bernier likely for Toronto.

Tarasenko, Datsyuk, Fleury named NHL’s three stars of the week

St. Louis Blues v New York Rangers
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St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 2.

The highlights:

Tarasenko led the NHL with five goals and tied for first with a +6 rating in powering the Blues (6-3-1, 13 points) to a trio of victories.

Datsyuk (4-3—7) tied for the League lead with seven points in three games to help the Red Wings (6-2-3, 15 points) earn five out of a possible six standings points.

Fleury went 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and two shutouts to backstop the Penguins (7-2-1, 15 points) to three consecutive wins (and four straight overall).

Fleury had a great week, though it’s worth mentioning the combined efforts of Winnipeg goalies Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson. The Jets tandem allowed just four goals on 120 shots last week — a .967 save percentage — and combined for back-to-back 1-0 shutouts over the Rangers and Blackhawks on the weekend.