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Penguins aren’t in rush to re-sign Fleury

Aug 26, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Marc-Andre Fleury AP

Although the Pittsburgh Penguins failed to live up to expectations in the 2014 playoffs, at least this time goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury escaped relatively unscathed. Before the 2013-14 campaign, Fleury had struggled in the Penguins’ recent postseason runs, which put his status as the team’s long-term starter into question.

It looks like his solid playoff showing hasn’t put that matter to rest though. New Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has defended Fleury and sees him as someone that could play between the pipes in Pittsburgh for years to come, but will he re-sign Fleury before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015? It seems we won’t know the answer any time soon.

“I’m not in a hurry to do a contract with him,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In fact, the 29-year-old goaltender’s contract status isn’t likely to be resolved before the start of the season.

That’s fine by Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh.

“We’re actually on the same page,” Walsh said. “It’s of no consequence at all.”

He added that Fleury wants to spend the rest of his career in Pittsburgh.

Related:

Rutherford: Mental game used to be difficult for Fleury, but he’s improved

  1. phtjoey - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    it’s somewhat of a gamble for the pens, yet, it doesn’t make much sense to precipitate the signing of the enigmatic goalie. if he doesn’t live up to expectations they could trade him without the burden of the new contract. on the other hand, some teams may be reluctant to give up too much for a pending UFA. if he performs very well during the regular season & playoffs his market value will go up and he will use that leverage to negotiate a large contract.

    maf is at a crossroads. he’s mental toughness will be challenged going into the season without a new contract. he’s in control of his own destiny. his performance will give his agent more or maybe less leverage.

    • blynasty - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      Well said. He has had the last couple years to demonstrate he is the franchise goalie of the future and has not solidified that. Now he finds himself with the pressure of a contract year on top of the pressure that has been evident since the Cup win. All in all it’s not like there are many options the Penguins could look for. There are some guys in the system, but they’re all quite far away from being NHL starters. Throwing Greise into that situation along with Zatkoff who really had a great year as a surprise backup, there is certainly a bery interesting goalie situation going on in Pittsburgh.

    • jpelle82 - Aug 26, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      #1 goalies dont grow on trees. at 5 million he’s affordable and reliable enough. look at some of the other contracts out there and look at fleury’s numbers, his salary right now is just about perfect for his resume. that being said, if he’s looking for a raise, the pens have to seriously consider letting him go but will probably do so at the cost of a couple seasons worth of obscurity and question marks. i dont like the idea of an open competition for goalie at this juncture or time window in the malkin/crosby era. they need to win in the next couple seasons or that window is gonna close in my opinion, therefore they need stability back there, someone who can win 40 and get them in the playoffs where they have a shot…that guy is fleury. zatkoff is iffy, hartzell or jarry are not ready…i havent seen enough of greiss but there’s a reason they signed him so we will see….i hate the idea of this group without fleury and the position possibly being downgraded as a result of him leaving.

  2. hockey412 - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    He has a lot to prove this year, that’s for sure. If pressure has been his downfall then this will be a good test of his nerves. I certainly don’t blame him for last year’s issues, even though he let in the occasional weak goal. The defense was so bad last year in the playoffs. Plus he’s probably the most likeable person on the planet.

    So if they don’t sign him, who are they going with. I saw Jarry play, I know he did well at the AHL level but he’s not ready. He overreacts a lot and reminds me a LOT of Fleury.

    • hockey412 - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      WHL I mean.

    • jdlinder11 - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      Jarry is still so young, he needs at least 2 more years.

  3. pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    2-4 year deal at most. If Fleury struggles in the playoffs in say year 2 then they could trade him and have Jarry come up and in turn should be NHL ready.

    • pensfan1 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      No doubt Pens are at a goalie crossroads and not committing to a timeline by Rutherford is the right decision. MAF got a huge contract based on his past performance, with an expectation he would still perform. It is typical of all NHL contracts. Pay up front for past performance instead of contract with performance bonus. Signing MAF for a few more years and if he does not perform is admitting wasted cash. Plus with some of the past performance a difficult trade, especially if the contract $$$ are high. You may not be able to dump him. I agree #1 goalies are not easily seen but there are hungry goalies available. What may look underperforming with one team may not be for another, especially with different coaching. It’s the risk GM’s take looking for talent. JR will do the right thing when the time is right and at that time most of us will question the decision. But we need to wait and see and reward performance, not history.

    • mvshark - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      Why would any team take him in a trade if he say struggles in the playoffs? He was a goalie an a Stanley Cup winning team, though he did not win it for them. He has proven that he is an adequate goalie at best, had close to a dozen wins giving up 4 or more goals…in playoffs you face the top half of the league, that is why he is not worth the paper the contract is written on.

  4. lilgurgi - Aug 26, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    The Pens have their work cut out for them. There have been times when Fleury looks unbeatable, but then there have been times when he couldn’t keep a beach ball out of the net. I wouldn’t suggest investing too long term with him because of the inconsistency, but then as others have said…what is plan B? As a Flyers fan I’ll definitely be interested to see what they do as the wrong choice could set them back a bit.

  5. bmscalise - Aug 26, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    I’m really interested to see how Fleury plays under Johnston. In my mind, Bylsma’s system led to turnovers at both bluelines. Constantly. And it was the system, because it was a teamwide epidemic, not just a couple of players. It kept the shot totals down, but the shots that got through were often Grade A chances off terrible turnovers.

    I don’t know what the new system will look like, but it would be hard to develop one harder on a goalie than Bylsma’s. Fleury’s stats and game should improve, especially in the playoffs. If it doesn’t, then there’s your answer.

  6. petersteelewannabe - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    There is no “right” answer. Few goalies have more than a few consecutive years of truly elite play. He had a really amazing Finals in 2009 and pretty much been in the top 10 for most of the time since then-not counting playoffs of course. Therein is the issue-playoffs count the most. He was good all season long and better in this years playoffs than the last few seasons. I would guess he will have another good to very-good year and end up re-signing in Pittsburgh for a short-term (2 or 3 year) contract in the 5 mil range, if he really wants to stay in Pittsburgh. If he really wants big bucks he will try FA.

    • stakex - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      This is what I’m talking about in my post bellow… the history surrounding Fleury is misremembered pretty bad.

      He didn’t have a really amazing Finals in 2009. He did play quite well in the final two games, which were mostly defensive minded games with few quality scoring chances either way. However he wasn’t great early on in the series, and was pulled after being shelled in game five… a couple of which were softies.

      Last season he was ranked 23rd in S% and 16th in GAA… perhaps that’s “good” in your opinion, but I would consider it average.

      Also, only once since he one the Cup has he been ranked inside the top ten in any of the key goaltender performance stats (GAA and S%)…. he was 9th in GAA in 10-11. That’s it. That was also the only year in which he cracked the top 20 in S%, at 15th. You can’t be considered a top 10 goaltender in terms of performance if you can’t get inside the top 15 in S%…. its that simple.

      The reason for the misconception about Fleury is his wins stat. He wins a lot of games…. or rather, the team wins a lot of games when he’s in net. That gives him a lot of fantasy value, and creates the perception that he’s better than he is. In reality though, from a performance standpoint, he’s a slightly bellow average starting goalie in the NHL.

      • stakex - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        Oh wow…. *won

      • jpelle82 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        i will credit him for being consistently average, you know what you’re going to get .91 or so save % and 2.4 or so gaa. you mention the 09 finals but neglect the 08 run where he was flat out lights out and the mvp of the playoffs for the pens (even though they lost) so he’s not just a stand in, and he showed this season finally that he still has the ability to steal games. he’s not a guy who is in the vezina running one year and lucky to be starting the next….cough….craig anderson….but he has been in the league for 10 years, has almost 300 wins and he’s only 29, his experience and consistency over that time is stabilizing from a team and a franchise building standpoint. most goalies are just entering their prime at 29. i’m not disagreeing that he’s average, but he’s certainly not below. i will point out another thing you can count on is his shootout prowess, he’s a head above the rest in that category. in my opinion from watching every game every year he’s played you can give him 5-7 wins per year based solely on that ability, which puts his win totals at the top of the heap just about every year, so no i wouldn’t necessarily say its definitively because of the team that plays in front of him. i know a few fans of certain teams that would have loved to have had 91% 2.4 gaa and 35-40 wins consistently over the past 10 seasons….

      • pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 26, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        I swear have you gotten a job as an NHL analyst yet?

  7. stakex - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    I don’t know what it is with this guy…. but the hockey world seems to over rate and over state his play more than any other goalie in the league. Perhaps if he played for a different team that wouldn’t be the case:

    “at least this time goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury escaped relatively unscathed”

    Really? He is THE reason the Columbus series was somewhat close. He single handedly threw away a game that would have made the series 3-1 with some of the softest goals you will ever see. Good goalies don’t do that, and with his history you can’t just gloss over it. Besides that, you could make a lowlight reel of soft goals he allowed against the Rangers. None of them really directly impacted any of the games, and the Pens collapse as a whole was the main focus on everyone’s mind…. but the soft goals were still there, even if the media didn’t care enough to notice.

    I’m sure the Pens management noticed though. Even if he “only” directly cost the team one game in the playoffs last year, his play was still shaky at times. He was good at times as well to fair, but does a team hell bent on winning a Cup really want such a wildcard in net? I wouldn’t think so. On top of that, even his regular season numbers aren’t as good as you would think from listening to the hockey media (which seems to only care about wins, not performance stats), with a career 2.66 GAA and .910S%. Those are both iffy for a starting goalie, especially one playing for an annual cup contender.

    Of course the problem for the Pens becomes: If not Fleury, than who? If there was a clear alternative, Fleury would have been gone years ago…. but top notch starting goalies tend not to hit the market, and the ones that have lately (Ryan Miller for example) have question marks of their own. So while the Pens really do need an upgrade in net, they might not have a whole lot of options but to stick with Fleury for at least the near future.

    • miketoasty - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      “Good goalies don’t do that,”

      Nope, never seen a good goalie do anything like what Fleury did… /s

      • blomfeld - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:23 AM

        the Quick videos are ‘not’ necessary here … so ‘back off’ Toasty … seriously

      • miketoasty - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        blom, your team has won the cup for the second time in what three years? I would think the Quick video’s wouldn’t hurt that much in comparison.

  8. hockeyflow33 - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    All the anger and fault that should go towards the defense and poor defensive play get lumped on Fleury. Put him on a team that has a defensive approach and he’ll be fine.

    • lilgurgi - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      If you’re going to blame the defense/defensive play for some of his goals, you’re going to have to remove some of his wins via the offense/offensive play. There are more than a few occasions where the offense has bailed him out in a poorly played game. It comes with the position (same as quarterback). You get more praise than you deserve and you get more blame than you deserve as well.

  9. 7mantel - Aug 26, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Where is c9 on vacation ?

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