The Marc-Andre Fleury era in Las Vegas has come to an end.
Hakkarainen, who played six games each in the AHL and ECHL last season, will not remain with the Golden Knights. Much like when Vegas acquired defenseman Nick DeSimone at the trade deadline, they will hold on to Hakkarainen’s contract but the player will remain in the Blackhawks organization.
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said conversations surrounding a new home for Fleury began as early as the June 29 exit meetings. McCrimmon said he wanted to keep this potential decision as professional and as transparent as could be.
“At that time, I told Marc that I couldn’t say for sure what we would do with our goaltending during the upcoming year. I said I wanted to treat him professionally, I wanted to treat him with respect. I wanted to have open lines of communication; I wanted him to be fully aware of any discussions with teams. I wanted him to be completely comfortable if he heard rumors or saw things out there that made him uncomfortable or made him curious that he certainly should feel free to call me.”
Rumblings of a Fleury trade began when ESPN said the Blackhawks were in advanced discussions of acquiring the three-time Stanley Cup winner on Tuesday morning. The Athletic reported Fleury found out about the deal through Twitter after multiple outlets confirmed. Fleury’s agent Allan Walsh also said his client had not heard from McCrimmon.
“We had not in fact completed the trade call. We had not begun the trade call with NHL Central Registry,” McCrimmon said. “With respect to this morning, it was on Twitter before we had our trade call completed. There were many discussions throughout the time leading up until the day.”
The Blackhawks were reportedly not on Fleury’s 10-team no-trade list, which could have been revamped Wednesday. The Athletic also reported Fleury does not want to play for Chicago and that something involving the Pittsburgh Penguins could materialize if all parties agree.
Sportsnet reported over the weekend that the Golden Knights had deals in place, one to send Fleury to Chicago and one for Robin Lehner to New Jersey, but both fell through. McCrimmon did not comment on if he tried to trade Lehner.
Lehner, who signed a five-year, $25 million extension with Vegas last offseason, will take the mantle as the starter next season. McCrimmon said the plan is to sign a backup goalie in the foreseeable future.
“What we’re looking for is a real good backup goaltender,” McCrimmon said. “We’re comfortable with Robin as a really good starter. His workload will reflect that but at the same time, we want Robin to be at his very best, and I feel strongly for your starter to be at his very best, you have to have a backup that you trust, can get you wins and allow you to use your starter to the best of his ability.”
CapFriendly has the Golden Knights at $12.2 million in cap space. That does not tie in Martinez’s reported deal or eventual deals for restricted free agents Nolan Patrick and Dylan Coghlan. Both were tendered qualifying offers before the 2 p.m. deadline on Monday.
The Golden Knights hope to finalize an extension for defenseman Alec Martinez at the start of free agency Wednesday. The UFA reportedly will be getting a three-year deal north of $5 million AAV.
Fleury had one of the best statistical seasons of his career, going 26-10-0 and a .928 save percentage, en route to winning the Vezina for the first time in his career.
Fleury is the third-winningest goalie in NHL history at 492. If he does stay with the Blackhawks, he will make his return to Las Vegas on Jan. 6.
“I’d like to thank Marc-Andre Fleury for his time in Vegas,” McCrimmon said. “Incredible moments we shared with him in the organization. He was the most popular player I’ve ever seen in sports. He was the face of the franchise.”