Friday, June 17, 2016

Is the Price Too High for Fleury in Calgary?

It was asked of me this week, who I thought the best fit for the Calgary Flames would be, if they had their pick of a handful of potential free agent or trade bait goalies and my initial response was Cam Ward. Of course, that went south, when he re-signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this week.  I thought he would have been the most cost-efficient goalie, who plays well and knows how to play well behind sub-par defenses.

After the Ward signing, it became apparent, through the reports in the media, that the Flames have indeed extended their desires to Pittsburgh, calling on the availability of Marc-Andre Fleury to possibly be their next number one goalie.

Personally, I would maintain that the Pittsburgh Penguins would be very wise to keep Fleury on for the foreseeable future, because as much as Matt Murray dazzled us through the playoffs, he is far from an established goalie in the NHL.  He now has a good foundation, after a solid playoff run, but goalies get hot and then goalies can get cold, just as easy and it takes a lot more than one solid playoff run, where he was arguably taken care of well by his skaters up front, making up for some shaky play at times.  Surely, once the Penguins got deeper and deeper into the run, it became more about Sidney Crosby and his band of merry skaters, more than it was Murray and his rookie run.

The only way that I can see the Penguins parting with a guy like Fleury, who may not even be a great fit for the Flames, is with a pretty significant package coming back the other way.  And if the Penguins are not sellers, which I don't think should be (or are, for that matter), they can really set the bar high on this one and see if Calgary will bite.

With two weeks before free agency, to which Fleury will not be a part of, since he still has three more years left, the Flames don't have a hockey pool worthy (for more on being pool worthy, check out my actual hockey pool blog) goalie signed on for next season and they have one of the few cap numbers that are warm to the acquisition of Fleury's $5.75 million per year hit.

The Penguins are not in terrible shape at this point against the cap either, which allows them to be patient.  With Pascal Dupuis eligible for the Long Term Injured Reserve, I have the Penguins penciled roster in at $68.8 million for 19 players, including Fleury and Murray.   With only a few spots left to fill and anywhere between $3 and $6 million left to spend (cap number pending), their depth can be filled in quite easily.

With that being said, if I was the Penguins, my first request would be for a 1st round pick in any deal for Fleury.  He's a bonafide starter, he has two Cup rings (one of which he earned) and I can't stress this enough, he doesn't have to go anywhere.  The Penguins don't need to take on salary and the Flames don't need to deal salary, so a roster player doesn't need to be dealt, other than Fleury, so a myriad of prospects and lesser picks, going either way, would likely suffice here.

If the Flames hold out on that deal, they will look to unrestricted free agency to throw around some dollars and it is really slim pickins out there right now.  Chad Johnson of the Sabres, James Reimer of the Sharks, re-signing Karri Ramo, Al Montoya of the Panthers or Jonas Gustavsson of the Bruins... all heading to free agency and played last season.  There is a feeling that the time is dawn on their playoff window, with this core group of players and a starting goalie will give them a good jump on their day in the Sun, before the night falls and the cooler air will mean they have to shut that window again.  Those free agent goalies are not the answer, in my opinion, so it might be well within their interests to negotiate hard with Pittsburgh for a guy like Fleury.

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