The Vegas Golden Knights entered the offseason with the daunting dilemma of figuring out what to do with their William M. Jennings-winning tandem in net.
As we all know, the duo of Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury carries a combined cap hit of $12 million. With Logan Thompson coming off his excellent AHL season and the Golden Knights rumored to be big players in the Jack Eichel sweepstakes, the goaltender position will likely be the first place to shed a large contract.
After Fleury’s excellent season, which climaxed in his first Vezina Trophy, there is most likely no better time to capitalize on his value in the trade market.
Although we would all hate to see the face of the Golden Knights leave, he is definitely the easier contract to move between him and Lehner.
Fleury only has one more season under contract, but he has been clear that he would be willing to take a discount to stick around after the season ends. Adversely, Lehner has four more seasons with an AAV of $5 million, and in the flat-cap atmosphere that the NHL is operating under, that contract would be extremely difficult to trade.
According to The Athletic’s Scott Powers, the Chicago Blackhawks “could be in play” for the Vezina winner, as they believe that there is enough in their forward core to make a push for the playoffs.
It is a notable tidbit that the Blackhawks were unable to come to an agreement with Lehner before trading him to Vegas; however, they are now looking to add a goaltender only a calendar year later.
If the Golden Knights are going to trade a goaltender, they could turn to a few different options for a backup. The most obvious choice is to turn to Thompson, who is coming off an excellent season with the Henderson Silver Knights. He boasted a 1.96 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage in 23 games in Henderson’s inaugural season.
Logan Thompson with a great sequence of saves to keep Colorado off the board pic.twitter.com/3NU8B1v0p4— Karlo (@Sumdood88) March 6, 2021
They could also look to an external option to fill the backup position, like Jaroslav Halak or Linus Ullmark, who are both pending unrestricted free agents. Another notable tidbit: Lehner and Ullmark were teammates for three seasons in Buffalo.
But the question remains: should the Golden Knights break up the tandem that won both major goaltender awards?
In my opinion, they should.
As much as it would hurt to see Fleury go, it will probably be him in the end because of the contract. The Golden Knights must beef up their forward core and consider re-signing Alec Martinez, and I do not see another avenue to take to accomplish that without a massive shakeup of the roster.
We will just have to wait and see what the front office and coaching staff decide in the coming weeks, but a potential trade of Fleury is a franchise-altering decision to mull over.
If you were GM, what would you do this summer?
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