For years, Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pittsburgh Penguins stood between Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals from getting beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He won three Stanley Cups as a member of the Penguins and in all three of those runs, Pittsburgh topped Washington in the postseason. Ovechkin and the Capitals then exercised their demons in 2018, ousting the Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and then defeating Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final, winning the organization’s first Stanley Cup.
Now it appears that Fleury could wind up joining the Capitals, himself.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his latest ’32 Thoughts,’ the Capitals have looked into the 2021 Vezina Winner as he toils away with the non-playoff contending Blackhawks:
We should prepare ourselves for the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury, Washington Capital. At the very least, the Capitals are looking into it.
Earlier this month, The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus connected Washington as a potential suitor for Fleury, along with a number of other teams that consider themselves Stanley Cup contenders this season.
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 19, 2022
Unlike Edmonton, who is in a free-fall from postseason contention, and unlike the Avalanche, who have almost no future draft capital to offer in a Fleury trade, Washington has options to offer the Blackhawks, should they seriously pursue Fleury.
The Capitals own their first-round picks in both 2022 and 2023, along with Winnipeg’s 2022 second-round pick, their own 2023 second-round pick and both of their own 2022 and 2023 third-round picks. Understandably, the Blackhawks would likely have to retain a portion of Fleury’s salary in a trade deal to get the best return, but they *should* be willing to do whatever it takes to facilitate and improve a strong return.
Although it was recently rumored that Chicago may not be as focused on recouping their assumedly lost 2022 first-round pick to the Blue Jackets, there’s nothing to say they wouldn’t try to get a 2022 or 2023 first-round pick out of the Capitals in a trade package. When it comes to Washington’s farm system, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler recently ranked the Capitals 26th in the NHL, one spot behind the Blackhawks. Along with key draft pick(s), Chicago would probably want a high-end prospect in a Fleury trade package as well. The Blackhawks fancy themselves as having a deep prospect pool defensively, so looking at future blue-liners might not be their focus. As Wheeler ranks them, Washington’s top three prospects in their system (Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre, and Alexei Protas) are all centermen, a position with which Chicago desperately needs help.
We shall see how/if a trade materializes between Washington and Chicago, two clubs that would have put on a damn show in the Stanley Cup Final at any point between 2009 and 2015, had they met.