Fans of the New Jersey Devils have been clamoring for general manager Tom Fitzgerald to check in with the Minnesota Wild on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Canadian goaltender just recently moved into second place and now only trails Devils legend Martin Brodeur for the most wins in NHL history. Fleury, 39, currently tends the net of a struggling Wild team. In the month of January, Minnesota put together a 2-5-1 record and is plummeting down the NHL standings. They currently sit eight points out of playoff position with 39 games left to play.
In fact, the Wild players held a lengthy closed-door meeting after their 6-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, their fourth loss in a row and eighth in nine games at the time.
At this point in the season, the NHL Trade Deadline is a little under two months away. Trade rumors and speculation tend to pick up around this time and, occasionally, we’ll see a trade or two come early.
Nico Daws is set to start his third game in a row on Wednesday night. Clearly, Daws has gained the confidence of head coach Lindy Ruff. So much so that Ruff is opting to sit their veteran goaltender, Vitek Vanecek, to the 23-year-old in consecutive games. That likely has to do with Vanecek’s inability to provide at least average goaltending for the Devils.
Still, Daws can’t start every game. Therefore, Fleury is the right idea in terms of a goaltending acquisition, right? He’s a pending unrestricted free agent, he has playoff success as a former Stanley Cup Champion, he’s extremely well-liked by his teammates, and has a desirable cap hit of $3.5 million.
Well, according to Pierre LeBrun on Insider Trading, Wild GM Bill Guerin is not ready to give up on Minnesota’s 2023-24 season, or his goaltender.
“I know that there are some teams waiting for the appropriate time to wait to reach out to Wild GM Bill Guerin to ask him what’s going on there,” LeBrun explained. “(However,) I didn’t wait! I reached out to Bill Guerin and asked him about Marc-Andre Fleury’s future. What Guerin said is, number one, the Wild have not given up on this season. He thinks they can have a second-half surge. They still believe they can be a playoff team, so they’re not going to have a Marc-Andre Fleury conversation if that’s the case.”
LeBrun continued: “But, Guerin acknowledged that, yes, if they fall out of it, he expects teams to call. And, he expects to have a discussion with Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has to have that discussion in the next couple of weeks with his agent, Allan Walsh. They have a full no-move (clause). It’s up to Walsh and Fleury if he goes anywhere before the deadline, and we don’t know the answer to that yet.”
Here’s the other factor. Fleury’s been here before. The veteran goaltender likes to be comfortable in his living situation regardless of his teams success. When the Vegas Golden Knight’s attempted to trade Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks, that wasn’t a smooth transaction. Fleury resisted at first and contemplated retirement instead. However, he eventually came around to the idea and accepted the move.
Now, at 39 years young, will Fleury want to waive his no-trade clause this late in his career? Perhaps if the motivation to win another Stanley Cup still burns inside of him that intensely. However, he’s remaining with the Wild right now, and Guerin is optimistic his team can inch closer in the playoff hunt. Even if that doesn’t happen, Fleury still needs to decide if he wants to waive.