Now that the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, they’ll find out just how hard it is to keep a championship team together.
One of the positions that will likely see significant change is in goal. Matt Murray, who was fantastic when called upon, is just 22 years old. He isn’t going anywhere.
A long-time Penguin who’s in jeopardy of being shipped out of town is Marc-Andre Fleury. In a cap world, keeping Fleury doesn’t make much sense. The 31-year-old had a great season in 2015-16, but he comes with a cap hit of $5.75 million through 2018-19.
Despite Fleury’s high salary, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford wouldn’t mind starting the season with both Muray and Fleury on the roster. With the strong possibility of expansion in 2017-18, that’s probably not possible.
“Ideally, we’d like to start next year with both goalies, Fleury and Murray,” Rutherford told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun. “But we have to look into some things. We have to, first of all, look into what the expansion guidelines are (if the Board of Governors votes yes next week), and talk internally as to how all this works, if both goalies are here.
“We’re very fortunate that we have two very good goalies; one a franchise goalie who’s done a lot for the Penguins over the years and another, up-and-coming young guy that just helped win a Stanley Cup. We have to look at the situation but it’s a good one to be in.”
Fortunate is one way of putting it.
Fleury is an asset that other teams will be interested in, but there’s no doubt that the best decision would be for him to leave Pittsburgh. It’s believed that any player with a no movement clause (Fleury has one) will be automatically protected in next summer’s expansion draft. If that’s the case, the list of players the Penguins can protect will be cut down significantly.
Teams like Calgary and Toronto could be interested in acquiring a goalie, but Fleury isn’t the only one on the market. Names like Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen or Detroit’s Jimmy Howard are also believed to be on the block.
Still, neither one of those goalies has a track record like Fleury’s. A lot will depend on Rutherford’s asking price.