The Blackhawks have made another big splash in the 2021 offseason.
On Tuesday, the team acquired goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for prospect Mikael Hakkarainen.
OFFICIAL: We’ve acquired reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury pic.twitter.com/PspWRdlQSR— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) July 27, 2021
The news was first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger before later being confirmed by the Blackhawks in the tweet above.
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman also released a statement related to the trade, detailed by Ben Pope of the Sun-Times in the tweet below:
"[Fleury] will put the talent we currently have on our roster in a better position to achieve sustained success. The entire organization is thrilled to have this future Hall of Famer on our team and his reputation of being an excellent teammate on and off the ice precedes him.”— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) July 27, 2021
Fleury was stellar in the 2021 season, playing in 36 games with a 26-10-0 record, .928 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average. For his efforts, he won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie and was also awarded the Jennings Trophy, annually given to the goalies from the team with the fewest goals scored against them. He shared that honor with teammate Robin Lehner.
At first glance this trade seems like a landslide victory for the Blackhawks but things get a bit murkier in the details. First, Fleury is under contract for one more season with a $7 million cap hit but his contract carries a modified no-trade clause.
Apparently, Fleury didn’t even know he was on the trade market:
A source close to Marc-Andre Fleury says that the trade is done, and that the Vezina Trophy winner found out through Twitter. #VegasBorn— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) July 27, 2021
With Fleury being 36 years old and having won just about everything an NHL goaltender can win, there’s another wrinkle involved here:
Marc-Andre Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh, says the goalie plans to take time and discuss with his family before deciding what he will do next season.— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) July 27, 2021
There was some talk that MAF may retire if he was traded from Vegas. Explains the very low return from the Blackhawks.
So, the Blackhawks may have just landed one of the best goalies in the league from last season for the low, low cost of a prospect who may never reach the NHL. However, there’s also the potential that Fleury decides to retire and the Blackhawks are left with nothing. It’s a low-risk, potential high-reward deal that makes the 2021-22 season a little bit more interesting at 1901 W. Madison.
Now we wait to see if Fleury is willing to play in Chicago. And the Blackhawks probably need an answer before free agency opens on Wednesday.