On multiple occasions over the last month, Blackhawks goaltender Marc-André Fleury has been connected to a number of contenders in the trade market (specifically: Edmonton, Washington, and Colorado). He’s good, he’s on an expiring contract, he’s theoretically available, the Blackhawks aren’t going anywhere this year, and they need to start looking toward the future with any and all moves. So, yeah, all of it makes sense, pending Fleury’s actual approval of a trade (he has a 10-team no-trade clause, and also a promise not to be traded if he doesn’t want to be (like it or not, honoring those requests is important)).
At one point or another, each of those three teams have come into the spotlight as a potential front-runner for Fleury, but as recently as yesterday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told us to “prepare ourselves for the possibility of a Marc-André Fleury” trade to the Washington Capitals. And it put us on high alert.
But less than 24 hours later, Friedman is evidently extinguishing the flames he started just last night:
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) January 26, 2022
Citing that Fleury is “still a Penguin” at heart, Friedman says the former three-time Cup winner in Pittsburgh may not end up wanting to go to his former heated rival (Michael: As a Cubs fan who just had to watch Jon Lester pitch for the Cardinals … RESPECT).
As I mentioned, the Blackhawks are likely to honor any request Fleury makes beyond his ten-team no-trade list since he committed to playing in Chicago this season under the idea from former GM Stan Bowman that he would not be traded. It’s still in Chicago’s best interest from a business standpoint to get as best of a trade package for Fleury as they can, since he came to Chicago for “free,” but as the trade deadline draws nearer, I get the sense this might be the one Bowman move interim GM Kyle Davidson honors this year.
If Fleury won’t accept a deal to the Capitals, it will hurt the Blackhawks leverage in any trade discussions ahead of the deadline, in a simple matter of supply and demand. And mid-season trades for goaltenders are already a tough sell. But Fleury remains a highly-sought after target, with two other suitors already in tow, so I suspect the Blackhawks will continue pursuing all options. Given that it cost nothing to acquire Fleury in the first place – and our expectation that he would NOT want to be traded this year – I’m not sweating this report. But still, it would be nice to start adding young talent with an eye on the future.
Stay tuned, I’m quite certain we haven’t heard the end of this one.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.