Marc-Andre Fleury dealt to Blackhawks as Golden Knights clear cap space

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Marc-Andre Fleury has been traded to the Blackhawks in a deal that sends minor leaguer Mikael Hakkarainen back to the Golden Knights.

That’s right. The 2020-21 Vezina Trophy winner has been dealt with his former team receiving only a 23-year-old minor leaguer. Not even salary retention on the $6 million owed to him next season, only cap space and a prospect. But with the cap ceiling not increasing for the next few seasons, clearing that room is a valuable asset for Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon.

“The opportunity to acquire a Vezina-winning goaltender is rare and one you cannot pass up,” said Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. “Marc-Andre improves our goaltending, strengthens our team defense and will have a huge impact on the overall development of the Blackhawks. Having a goaltender like this on our team will put the talent we currently have on our roster in a better position to achieve sustained success. The entire organization is thrilled to have this future Hall of Famer on our team and his reputation of being an excellent teammate on and off the ice precedes him.”

Fleury’s 10-team no-trade list did not feature Chicago, which has already raised questions about his future.

If Fleury does retire, his $7 million cap hit will be removed from the Blackhawks’ books.

He is the first reigning Vezina Trophy winner to be dealt the following offseason since the Sabres sent Dominik Hasek to the Red Wings in 2001. Detroit would go on to win the 2002 Stanley Cup.

Roster reasons for trade

It’s been an aggressive offseason of change for Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman. After moving Duncan Keith to the Oilers, he acquired Seth Jones during the NHL Draft as he looks to max out the final two years of the contracts of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Adding Fleury — if he does play out the final season of his deal — solves a question in goal as they look to scratch and claw their way to a playoff spot in what will be a very difficult Central Division.

For Vegas, they needed to clear salary cap space in order to re-sign unrestricted free agent Alec Martinez and restricted free agents Nolan Patrick and Dylan Coghlan. They have other UFAs to consider, like Tomas Nosek and Mattias Janmark, and clearing $7 million in cap space will help that jam.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.