Marc-Andre Fleury is willing to play for the Chicago Blackhawks after all.
Fleury has informed the Blackhawks that he will play for the team during the 2021-22 season after being acquired in a trade last week.
Fleury has one year remaining on his current contract with a salary cap hit of $7 million for this season.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) August 1, 2021
After spending the past four seasons with the Golden Knights, the team traded Fleury to Chicago last week in an obvious salary-cap clearing trade. The only return for the Golden Knights, aside from the newly freed salary cap space for this season, was a minor league forward that is going to continue to play for Chicago’s farm team.
[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]
In the immediate aftermath of the trade there was concern that Fleury would not want to play for Chicago because he did not want to leave Vegas and did not want to uproot his family again at this stage of his career. There was also some obvious tension in the way the trade was handled with Fleury and Walsh claiming there was no communication regarding it, with Fleury having to find out he was traded on Twitter. Fleury had said that he needed to take some time to consider his future.
It seems now that he is ready to continue his career in Chicago.
This is obviously a significant development for the Blackhawks because Fleury is an obvious upgrade over what the team used in goal the past couple of seasons. Not only is he still a high-level starter, he is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. Nothing changes a team faster than goaltending, and the Blackhawks should have that taken care of.
Along with Fleury, Chicago has also added Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson, Jake McCabe, and Caleb Jones to its roster this offseason, and should be getting captain Jonathan Toews back after he missed the entire 2020-21 season. That is a lot of change, a lot of big names, and a lot of money thrown at this year’s roster.
The question is whether or not that will be enough to make them relevant contender again. Even with all of these moves there are still some big questions that remain, including with the new additions.
- Fleury is still really good. But he is also 36 years old and will be playing behind a defense that, even with its additions this offseason, still has some flaws.
- Seth Jones is making a lot of money, but is he the player that the Blackhawks think he is? His performance has dropped the past two years.
- Tyler Johnson had a strong playoff run in Tampa Bay, but he has a big contract without really being a consistent impact player anymore.
- Even with the return of Toews and the addition of Johnson there is still a depth question.
Lot of changes. We will find out if they are the right changes.