Hours after the trade was finalized, Marc-Andre Fleury rushed to Xcel Energy Center via Craig Leipold’s private plane, threw on his green Minnesota Wild jersey for the first time, and was on the bench serving as Cam Talbot‘s backup during a 3-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
It was a scene the hockey world wasn’t sure would happen after the 3 p.m. ET Monday NHL trade deadline. Fleury had to approve any move that would send him away from the Chicago Blackhawks, and there were doubts teams would meet general manager Kyle Davidson’s price tag.
In the end, Wild GM Bill Guerin, a former teammate of Fleury’s, ponied up a conditional second-round pick — which could become a first depending on certain conditions — to create a goalie tandem of Fleury and Cam Talbot. Backup Kaapo Kähkönen was dealt to San Jose for defenseman Jacob Middleton.
Talbot has been the Wild’s No. 1 goaltender since signing a three-year, $11 million deal in 2020. Now Fleury enters the picture and the goaltenders are looking at shared starts. Guerin, however, sees this as a good thing for his team going forward.
“[Talbot’s] been absolutely fantastic,” Guerin said. “He was one of the first people to reach out to Flower. I’m so confident in Cam Talbot as a player and as a person, that this will go well. You know, we’re all after the same thing here. There’s no room for petty bulls—. We’re on a team together and we’re trying to win. And Cam is an unbelievable teammate, and I know he’s going to be awesome.”
Talbot said Monday night that Guerin had been in constant communication with him about the situation.
After the win over Vegas, the Wild are tied for second in the Central Divsion with the Nashville Predators but ahead on points percentage. They have a decent cushion in playoff position but they aren’t totally secure just yet, which is why bringing Fleury could solidify their spot very soon.
“We don’t have that many games left before playoffs start, so I think things are going to happen quick,” Fleury said. “Hopefully I can help. It is already a great team. I think Cam’s a great goaltender also, and I’ll just try to pull my weight, try to do well and try to help win some games.”
Fleury would only have approved a trade to a legitimate contender. He sees that in Minnesota with what Guerin is building there. While the 37-year-old said he’d like to play another season, right now the focus is on helping the Wild win now.
“There’s always the chance to win,” Fleury said. “I love to compete and to play, the fun of the game, but I don’t know. There’s not much that beats winning. You can ask anybody who has won: You’re always chasing that feeling and that achievement. Yeah, just want to keep doing it again.”