The biggest question for the Vegas Golden Knights this offseason is going to be how they handle their suddenly complex goaltending situation.
Marc-Andre Fleury, the face of the franchise, remains under contract for two more seasons, while the team seems determined to try and re-sign Robin Lehner, who had taken over the starting job during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs after he was acquired at the NHL trade deadline.
While keeping both players would seem to be an ideal set-up (having two goalies capable of being a high level starter is a good thing!) the financial and logistical circumstances around it would seem to be incredible difficult.
Not only would it require a substantial salary cap commitment to a position where only one player can play at a time, there is also the delicate balance of playing time. Both goalies are starters, both will want to start, and both have earned the right to start. That has resulted in speculation that the Golden Knights could trade, or perhaps even buy out, Fleury this offseason.
There was also the school of thought that Fleury might ask for an exit given the way the goaltending situation unfolded this postseason.
That does not seem to be the case.
Fleury told The Athletic’s Jesse Granger this week that while he realizes the potential of a trade, he has no intention of asking the team for one this offseason and that he is still committed to finishing his career in Vegas.
Even if it means potentially sharing the net.
“I want to stay in Vegas,” he told The Athletic Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ve loved every moment since I got here.”
Fleury emphasized that he is not seeking a trade, and if it were up to him he would finish his career in Vegas.
“This team means a lot to me, and the city has been so good to me,” Fleury said. “The fans, and (owner Bill Foley) have been so awesome. It’s a great team, and I thought when I came here that maybe I could retire here. I wanted to end my career here.”
Fleury added that he gets along great with Lehner, and that while his goal is to not be just a backup, he said he intends to “practice hard, try to play well, and hopefully get some games.”
The problem here is if Vegas is successful in re-signing Lehner it would probably carry a price tag similar to Fleury’s. That would mean Vegas would have somewhere in the neighborhood of $14-15 million tied up in net. The only team in the league this season that is slated to spend that much on goaltending is Montreal with the newly formed Carey Price–Jake Allen duo.
Montreal has the salary cap space to make that sort of a commitment to the goalie position. Vegas, on the other hand, may not. Not unless it makes a drastic cut somewhere else on the roster.
Even though the Golden Knights do not have any other significant free agents to deal with, they still have a handful of RFA’s to re-sign and are already crunched against the cap. Even if were to shed salary elsewhere to keep both goalies it would still probably prohibit the team from making any other outside addition via trade or free agency. It is a very good team, one of the very best in the league, but they are still going to want to make some improvements to the roster. That may be difficult, if not impossible, with both goalies on the roster.