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Wild kicking tires on Penguins’ Fleury with Bernier dealt

Jun 23, 2013, 4:35 PM EST

Marc-Andre Fleury Getty Images

Now that Jonathan Bernier is off the market, one of the teams that was in hot pursuit of him could turn their attention to another French-Canadian stopper.

Michael Russo of The Star Tribune reports the Minnesota Wild have inquired with the Pittsburgh Penguins about their maligned goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The Wild were one of three teams believed to be in the final race for Bernier, but now that he’s off to Toronto the Wild and GM Chuck Fletcher have to look elsewhere.

Minnesota could just re-sign their own unrestricted free agent in Niklas Backstrom and stop their search, but their pursuit of Bernier indicates they’re headed in a different direction in goal. With the money the team has invested in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, skimping on goaltending would seem like a bad idea.

  1. rebekah319 - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Please No!!! I rather have Backstrom resigned!!!

    • bardown66 - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      Never really thought highly of Backstrom. Then again, I rarely watched him play. I think fleury would be better with you guys IMO. More structure will help MAF.

      • mp1131211 - Jun 23, 2013 at 11:48 PM

        ? If you’ve never seen him play, then why comment at all?

      • bardown66 - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:11 AM

        Because the other half of the deal I watch roughly 60 games a year plus playoffs. Backstrom hasn’t accomplished much I’m comparison, numbers don’t lie.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      I agree with you. Fleury is damaged goods.

      • tdrusher225 - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:34 PM

        Don’t give up on him yet. He’s been horrid, but a team that knows how to play structured defense in front of him will certainly help. He has the ability to be one of the best in the league and I think a change of situation would do him well.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Yeah, I can totally see why you’d want Backstrom over Fleury…

      Backstrom broken down 35 years old. Fleury 28 years old.

      Backstrom undrafted. Fleury 1st overall pick in 2003.

      Backstrom 1 Silver medal and 1 Bronze medal. Fleury 1 gold medal and 1 Stanley Cup

      Backstrom 3-8 in the playoffs never past the first round, Fleury 45-34 and 1 Stanley Cup

      Backstrom 184-124 in regular season. Fleury 249-151 in regular season

      Backstrom no all-star games. Fleury 2011 All-Star

      Backstrom’s most wins in 1 season: 37. Fleury’s most wins 42, and 40 as well

      Backstrom averages 52 games played a year. Fleury averages 55 games a year, including missing half a season.

      Yeah, I totally get why’d you want Backstrom

      • mnhockey24 - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:50 PM

        im pretty sure back was an all star a few years ago

      • stakex - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:32 AM

        I noticed you left out the only stats that really matter…. the personal, non-team based stats.

        Career GAA: Backstrom 2.43 Fleury 2.66
        Career Save %: Backstrom .917 Fleury .910
        Career shutouts: Backstrom 28 Fleury 23 (Backstrom has played 109 fewer games as well)

        Those are the stats that tell you how well a goalie is keeping the puck out of the net. What we learn with these is that Backstrom is actually be better goalie, and that Fleury has been lucky enough to play for a better team. Team based stats mean nothing when figuring out which goalie is better, only personal stats… all of which you conveniently forgot to list. Any sane person, when looking at the personal head to head stats would take Backstrom in a heartbeat over the human sieve.

        Not to mention have you even watched how Fleury played in the playoffs the last two seasons?

      • gooterbaby - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:45 AM

        Im pretty sure he never played in the Olympics…don’t act like Canada won the gold medal because of him. He was the 3rd goalie as I recall.

  2. bardown66 - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I mean, I thank fleury for a few good years. If we can get return though Id be cool with moving him. I know Minnesota has a stocked prospect list. Not that fleury would command a blue chip prospect but you never know. Shero is a wizard with these sort of things.

    • pdmjr - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      MAF aint goin anywhere…….End of story

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      If the Wild have to pay the full $5 million a year, your not getting a blue chip prospect for him. It seems as if Pittsburgh is desperate to get arid of him and his contract. They’d be happy to get a mid round pick for him.

  3. rebekah319 - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    I only said no because I don’t want the Wild to give up our prospect pool they are too importanted and also Fleury has never been my favorite so its nothing against him- I just do not think giving up lots of a goalie is worth it plus the Wild do not have a ton of cap room at all!

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      If you can get him this year, I say go for. Yeah, the Wild don’t have a ton a cap room this summer, approximately 6.737 million in cap space right now. However, next summer, they do have close to 25 million to spend. They will go after Vanek if he’s not resigned. They have no restricted free agents to sign next summer either. Granlund, Coyle, Brodin, and Scandella are the restricted free agents 2 summers from now. By then only Koivu, Parise, and Suter are the only players under contract then.

  4. killerpgh - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Interesting….

  5. alswingman - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    If the Wild’s cap can manage 6 mil for next season, go after Ryan Miller. Miller had a subpar year but when the guy is on his game he is elite status. He wants out of Buffalo and Buffalo has paid Miller’s backup Jhonas Enroth starter money for next 2 seasons.

  6. illogic87 - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    How would having Backstrom be skimping? He was better than most last year.

  7. icelovinbrotha215 - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    The question is who would start for PIT? I’m not sure who the Pens have in their system. If there is one (or some) highly touted prospect(s), then Vokoun would be a viable short-term plan. It is interesting to see what PIT does. With their money situation, you would think they would have to move @ least one of their bigger names.

    • biasedhomer - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      They would have lots of (mainly short term) options, via free agency and trade:

      Luongo, Backstrom, Vokoun, Kip, Tim Tomas, Bryz (if bought out), Miller, Nabby, Emery, Mike Smith, Hiller, Neuvirth

      If they want to move on from MAF and free cap room, they don’t have to worry too much about replacements. MAF is good in the regular season, but a team like the Pens that goes to the playoffs needs more than that.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jun 23, 2013 at 7:52 PM

        Salary cap prevents many of those from being options

      • Kristenaux - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:16 PM

        Whoever gets MAF, make sure you have a great goalie coach! I love the flower but there are certain mistakes he keeps making over and over each year of his career. This points to being a bad learner or a bad goalie coach.

      • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        Luongo’s contract is a major problem.
        Kipper may retire this year.
        Thomas could come in but is not a long term solution any more than Vokoun is.
        Bryz is not going to be bought out now that Bernier is off the market.
        LI wants to hold on to Nabby unless someone better shows up.
        Emery is a possibility but a question mark long term.
        Smith will probably stay with Phx, even if they move.
        Hiller and Neuvirth are not available.

        That leaves only one…Miller.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:15 PM

        Teams can take on salary cap hits in part of the trade. Such as Buffalo paying part of Jason Pominville when he was dealt to Minnesota.

  8. jakreidler - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Fleury to Wild, Luongo to Pitt.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      Pitt can’t handle Luongo’s contract

      • chanceoffleury1 - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        Neither can Vancouver for much longer. And if he gets bought out the Pens can just offer him a completely new one. That being said, I think it’d be better for the Pens to just wait it out a bit before they make such a big decision. Switching from Fleury to Luongo is like going on a diet and switching from one piece of cake to two cupcakes. It’s the same product in a different looking package. The results won’t be too much different then what they’re working with now. The Pens have a lot of trade bait in Letang. I won’t be surprised if the return he swings involves a goalie of some sort. Whether that be a prospect or a ready-to-go starter.

  9. ironcity6pak - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    As long as he want to stay in Pitt he’s not going anywhere

    • pdmjr - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM

      There are no goalies better than Fleury available

      • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:16 PM

        Miller is better. Plus he doesn’t choke come playoff time.

  10. northstarnic - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    NOOOOOOOO!!!!

  11. isithockeyseasonyet - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    Bad call Minnesota, too much risk for the potential reward

  12. pdmjr - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    All of the goalies mentioned are damaged worse than Fleury, are too old or not available do to high salary. Pens have said they have no plans to trade him unless he wants to leave. He doesn’t. They have two more years with him and then they can make a choice based on his performance.

    • lesbuckets - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      If you don’t think Ryan Miller could still be an elite player in this league, with a decent defense in front of him, you need to watch more hockey!!! And Miller has a history of playing big in big situations… but the Sabres absolutely sucked defensively for most of the season last year and he faced a ridiculous amount of shots. So, be specific… where’s the damage, pdmjr???

  13. greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Hahaha

    I love how everyone says Fleury chokes come playoff time, yet he’s won you a Stanley Cup and brought you to the Cup Finals another year.

    If you want to talk about goalies who choke in the playoffs, look at Niklas Backstrom
    Done in 5 vs Anaheim. Done in 6 vs Colorado. Hurt vs Chicago

    • stakex - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:45 AM

      Fleury winning the Cup with the Pens was a fluke. Contrary to the way Cups are generally won in the modern era (strong defense and goaltending), the Pens won the Cup in spite of Fleury… not because of him. They had a very good, well balanced team that kept the pressure off of him. He simply played OK, and the team did the rest. If he has to be the star, he falls apart.

      I would liken him to Mike Richter with the 1994 Rangers. Being a Rangers fan I always liked the guy, but he was one of the most over rated goalies in NHL history… and him winning a Cup with the Rangers was a pure fluke. He got hot that one year, and had an amazing team in front of him. After that one season, he looked very average at best the rest of his career and showed no ability to carry anything but a world class team that’s playing good hockey. That’s as close an analog to Fleury as you will get.

      I would also point out Fleury is pretty much the main reason the Pens didn’t win back to back Cups. He choked it off against Detroit the year before they won.

      • hockey412 - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:07 AM

        “Fleury winning the Cup with the Pens was a fluke.”

        Idiot. These aren’t one-game playoffs like in football. Grow up, or grow a brain. Or just shoosh.

      • stakex - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        Calling me an idiot because I have a fact based opinion that you don’t like? Real mature.

        That’s a true statement, like it or not. Fleury won the cup with a playoff GAA of 2.61, and a S% of .908 that year. That’s insanely bad for a Cup winning goaltender. If he didn’t have an extremely good team playing in front of him, the Pens wouldn’t have made it out of the first round… let alone won the Cup.

        So yes, it was a fluke that such a bad goaltender was able to play so marginal in the playoffs and still get his name on the Cup. If he puts up numbers like that every year in the playoffs (which would be a giant improvement over his last three years, sad as it is), he’ll never come close to winning another Cup.

        And to be clear, I wasn’t saying it was a fluke the Pens won the Cup that year. They had a very good team back then that was more balanced then their current team, and they probably would have won with a random guy from the stands in net. Fleury just happened to be the schmuck lucky enough to be between the pipes.

    • kcbruinsfan - Jun 24, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      True, Fleury has been to two Stanley Cup finals and won one cup, but those finals appearances were four and five years ago. The fact that he was the starting goaltender on a winning cup team four years ago is not exactly the strongest argument why you’d want him playing for your team.

      The fact is Fleury was a manageable, but less than spectacular netminder during those cup runs posting a 2.61 GAA and .908 save % in 2009 when the Pens hoisted the cup. Not exactly spectacular numbers especially when compared to the top goaltenders of the past few cup winning teams – Thomas, Quick, and this nyear Crawford and Rask.

      His numbers have not gotten slightly worse, but have simply exploded. Last season he posted a horrific 4.63 GAA and .834 % and this season a not quite as awful 3.52 GAA and .883 % after only two games before being pulled in favor of Vokoun.

      I question whether you’d want to dedicate the money and cap space to a goaltender who’s confidence is shot and who tends to implode during the most pivotal moments of the season. Sure, he could recover his confidence and get his game back, but it’s a huge risk to dedicate a sizeable amount of cap space to a question mark.

      His status as a former number 1 pick and cup winning goaltender do not trump his recent performance and should have little to no bearing in making a decision on whether or not the Pens decide to keep him or if another team decides to take the risk of trading for him.

  14. mp1131211 - Jun 23, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Don’t kick too hard and fast or your foot might miss him and end up in the back of the net.

  15. bwomped - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:38 AM

    If individual numbers mean that goalie will win the cup(the only thing that matters in the NHL, then where is Hendrick Lindquist’s cup? Luongo? No active goalie has more than one cup as the starter in the NHL than Martin Brodeur. Brick wall Fleury is not. Winner? No doubt about that. And talk about a good team in front of him? The same team with Sidney Crosby? Evgeni Malkin? Kris Letang maybe? They are winners until they lose but, it’s Fleurys fault? He didn’t get swept out of the Eastern Conference now did he? Coach Bylsma will adjust and so will Marc Andre Fleury.

  16. drunk4thliners - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Now is not the time to move MAF. The Pens and Ray Shero will give him another chance (maybe the last one) to up his trade value and move him after next season, with one year left on his deal.

    All the comparisons with Ryan Miller are a bit far fetched. I do believe Miller is a better goalie and can win games singlehandedly, but does anyone really believe the defense in Pgh is that much better than the D in Buffalo? Letang and a few other names, but as a unit, not suited for either goalie IMO.

    • drunk4thliners - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      In regards to a Min-Pit trade, I wouldn’t put it past Shero to work some cap room wizardry and at least consider a few prospects for MAF, though. And if it happened earlier, I would not be opposed.

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