Earlier this week, Frank Seravalli dropped some serious rumors on the immediate future of the Chicago Blackhawks, including the potential for Kyle Davidson to stay on as GM, the possibility of a new President of Hockey Operations, and the surprising availability of Alex DeBrincat. You can find the full segment right here, it really was loaded with information.
One of the bits that stood out surrounded Blackhawks goaltender Marc-André Fleury. With trade rumors starting to swirl around him, and plenty of teams needing an improvement at goaltender, there seems to be enough writing on the wall that the Blackhawks should be moving Fleury before or at the NHL Trade Deadline.
Although Fleury himself says he’s not focused on those rumors, instead focusing on getting the Blackhawks into the postseason, Seravalli believes that the best fit for a potential Fleury trade is not the obvious Edmonton Oilers, who’ve been an oft-rumored destination this trade season, but rather a divisional rival of Chicago (emphasis mine):
He’s been mentioned in Edmonton. I don’t see it as a fit. He holds a modicum of control himself. The Blackhawks coaxed him back to play this year, after that trade, part of the deal, I believe, between the Fleury camp and Stan Bowman was ‘we’re not moving you anywhere, unless you’re comfortable with it.’ So he’s going to be able to call his shot in some ways. The team that I had circled for Marc-André Fleury is not Edmonton, not these other places that have needed a high-profile goalie. It’s Colorado.
The Avalanche have little-to-no future draft capital that the Blackhawks would be interested in a trade package for Fleury, unless they look at the 2023 NHL Draft. Colorado also would need to get very creative to fit Fleury into the salary cap situation, unless Chicago retains salary in a potential deal.
Colorado makes more sense from a legitimate contender standpoint, with the Avalanche sitting atop the Central Division and Western Conference standings currently. Darcy Kuemper has been hot and cold this season, but ultimately not terrible at 17-5-1 with a .908 save-percentage and a 2.72 GAA. He does, however, hold a -0.97 Goals saved above average (GSAA) marker this season and leads the NHL in Goal Support per 60-minutes at 4.11. Fleury this season holds a .916 save-percentage and 2.69 GAA, with a 5.58 GSAA and is doing so with a 2.33 goal support per 60-minutes marker.
The problem with Colorado is two-fold: cap space and draft capital. They have neither. If Chicago is going to trade Fleury, they are going to want to re-coup a 2022 first-round pick as well as get future pieces to a rebuilding puzzle. Colorado doesn’t have their 2022 first, second, or fourth-round picks and their NHL-ready prospect pipeline is headline by Alex Newhook and Bowen Byram, two players I would doubt the Avalanche want to lose for a rental in Fleury.
While Fleury might not be focused on the NHL Trade Deadline or his career beyond the 2021-22 season, his best value to the Blackhawks is as a trade piece.
He has a ten-team no-trade clause on his current deal, which he signed in Vegas, and part of why he committed to Chicago this summer was the idea that he would not be moved in the season. There’s still no indication that the Blackhawks are shopping Fleury or if he would accept a trade at all. Chicago will likely honor his desires to not move his family or be away from them again, but it still needs to be on the table if Chicago is going to get the most value out of their top goaltender.