While the Blackhawks are very much on the outside looking-in at the Stanley Cup Playoff race, goaltender Marc-André Fleury says he is still focused on getting Chicago into the postseason.
Following today’s morning skate, Fleury spoke about the trade rumors that have started to circulate around his name, but added that his focus is on the Blackhawks right now, not the future beyond this season.
Marc-Andre Fleury said he hasn’t thought about trade rumors or the future yet: “All I want is for this team to make the playoffs. That’s what’s in my head right now. It’s not worth looking too far ahead.” #Blackhawks
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) January 20, 2022
Fleury is on the final year of a three-year contract extension he signed with the Vegas Golden Knights and comes with a $7M AAV cap hit. He joined the Blackhawks this summer after being traded from Vegas, essentially for free. The reigning Vezina winner had a terrible start to the season under Jeremy Colliton, as did the rest of the team, but has rebounded under Derek King, as did the rest of the team.
This season, Fleury is 13-11-3 with a .916 save-percentage and a 2.69 GAA. Under Derek King since November 7, Fleury is 12-4-3 with a .930 save-percentage, a 2.17 GAA, and has recorded all three of his shutouts this season in that span.
After the 1-9-2 start to the season under Jeremy Colliton, the Blackhawks have tried to dig themselves out of the basement of the league. Since November 7, Chicago is 14-9-4 and hold the 15th-best point-percentage at .593. It’s good enough to get them to the top of the bottom-third of the NHL, but not good enough to get them into a real Stanley Cup Playoff chase 39 games into the season.
— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) January 20, 2022
Fleury holds a ten-team no-trade clause on his current deal and by the looks of it, would exercise that trade protection to try to help the Blackhawks as much as he could this season. His trade value to Chicago has gone up since the head coaching change in November, but as the season continues towards the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21, there’s a possibility that he could get hurt, or his play falls off a cliff, and the trade value decreases as a rental player at the deadline.
Chicago would be best served, especially in the very likely scenario that they are not in a playoff chase at that point in the season, to move Fleury. But Fleury made the commitment to the Blackhawks in the summer with the idea that he would not be traded this season. That came from then-GM Stan Bowman.
Fleury is ever the optimist. He’s also not wired like most players and may not be interested in Cup-chasing at this point in his career, especially considering how much it took to move him and his family to Chicago for this season. For now, he’s going to do all he can to drag the Blackhawks out of the cellar of the NHL and by the way things have gone recently, he still might be able to do it.