The day would have passed without notice until everything changed at the NHL trade deadline in February, but instead, the NHL trade rumors are percolating. Tuesday was the deadline for Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and his agent Allan Walsh to submit his 10 team no-trade clause to GM Kelly McCrimmon.
Per Fleury’s limited no-trade clause, he has the right to block a trade to 10 teams. The NHL trade rumors exploded at the worst time. Late in the Western Conference Final, ESPN reported a handshake deal between Lehner and the team on a new contract.
Lehner has denied the rumor.
Fleury’s contract is a big obstacle for any trade. The deal will pay him $7 million for the next two seasons. He was the marquee player when Golden Knights selected their original team via expansion draft three seasons ago. However, everything changed when the team acquired 1A goalie Robin Lehner from Chicago at the trade deadline.
New head coach Pete DeBoer took an instant shine to Lehner, who was brilliant after the trade. In the regular season (before the pandemic pause), he was 3-0-0 with a .940 save percentage. Lehner became the go-to goalie in the NHL playoffs, too.
Fleury only started three playoff games and did not make consecutive starts despite a couple of sparkling performances that belied his .910 save percentage.
The affable goalie, who has been the face of the Vegas Golden Knights franchise since it’s inaugural moments, started 49 games this season but slumped to a 27-16-5 record with a .905 save percentage.
Fleury will join former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Matt Murray as the premier goalies in the NHL trade discussions on the already flooded goalie market. The list of available goalies includes pending free agent and 2018 Stanley Cup winner Braden Holtby, ex of the Washington Capitals, and likely Anton Khudobin of the Dallas Stars.
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederick Anderson and Arizona Coyotes puck stopper Darcy Kuemper are also on the growing list of available goalies.
TSN Insider Darren Dreger mused that Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, could make the process more difficult by excluding prime suitors from the list and including teams which are unlikely to have an interest.
Walsh also made headlines during the playoffs when he tweeted (then later deleted) artwork, which depicted Marc-Andre Fleury stabbed in the back by the Golden Knights’ sword, which included the name DeBoer on the blade.
Last season, Phil Kessel famously engineered his own trade out of Pittsburgh when his no-trade list effectively removed all interested teams except the Arizona Coyotes. Kessel even vetoed a trade to the Minnesota Wild.
Fleury, 35, is the winningest active goalie in the NHL (466 wins) and fifth all-time. He is 18 wins behind Ed Belfour (484) and 23 wins behind Roberto Luongo (489) for third place all-time.
Fleury was the Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick and first overall selection in the 2003 NHL Draft. In 156 games for Vegas over three seasons, Fleury has a 91-50-14 record with a .915 save percentage.
He finished fifth in Vezina Trophy voting in 2017-18, and fourth in 2018-19. Last season, Marc-Andre Fleury also garnered Hart Trophy votes and finished 17th.
Among the teams currently hot in the NHL trade rumors to be goalie-shopping are the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Coyotes End Golden Knights Win Streak At Four
The Arizona Coyotes stopped the Vegas Golden Knights winning streak at four games with a 5-2 victory at Gila River Arena on Friday night.
Connor Garland led the Coyotes offense with a goal and two assists, while Nick Schmaltz scored for the third straight game.
It’s a very difficult proposition to beat a team four times in a row – look at any playoff series. Arizona winning a game, especially at home, was probably due. The Coyotes seemed to have more spring in their step than they did Wednesday night when the Golden Knights handed the Coyotes a 5-2 loss. Several times the Vegas defense allowed odd-man rushes to the Coyotes, and running five defensemen once again likely contributed to some of the errors on the back end.
“It’s definitely different,” said Shea Theodore after the game. “You are rotating through partners (and) you can’t exactly get into the rhythm with one guy… at the same time I don’t think that’s an excuse.”
“We should be able to adapt. We just can’t give up that many odd-man rushes on any given night.”
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said he felt it was more the special teams that affected the outcome of the game.
“Penalties really kinda took our momentum out of the game. Both taking them, and obviously their power play goal early, and then a bunch of the other kills we had to have… when they did take (penalties) I didn’t think our power play created any momentum for us. For me that was… the story.”
“Some self-inflicted things tonight,” DeBoer said.
Whatever the reason, Vegas allowed the Coyotes to grow confident by ceding the opportunities and it showed. Arizona seemed to feel better about its game more and more as the game wore on.
Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to earn the win as Vegas never quite seemed to find the scoring touch it displayed Wednesday night. Robin Lehner struggled, giving up four goals on 25 shots against and will likely want a couple of those goals back. Lehner seemed off the entire night, whether handling the puck, setting himself for shots, or tracking movement. Those games will happen, but they’re highlighted even more when the goaltender in the other net makes the needed saves. Kuemper was definitely the better of the two goalies on the night.
Fortunatley for the Golden Knights, they’ll be able to jump right back into the action against the Coyotes on Sunday afternoon at 4 pm MT, 3 pm PT.
- The game marked the first time this season the Vegas Golden Knights have given up more than two goals.
- Cody Glass returned to the lineup after sitting out a pair of games and recorded a power play goal in the third period.
- Shea Theodore scored for the second straight game, an unassisted marker at 1:19 of the third period.
- Vegas went back to a lineup that featured five defensemen and 13 forwards with Glass back in the lineup. Notably both Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo went minus-2 in the contest.
- Mark Stone keeps his scoring streak intact, assisting on Cody Glass’ power play goal in the third period to give him eight points (2-6-8) in his first five games.
Pietrangelo Scores, Fleury Stops 20; Vegas Tames Coyotes 5-2
Shea Theodore scored twice. Alex Pietrangelo notched his first goal with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights (4-0-0) established a new franchise record for consecutive wins to start the season in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes (1-2-1) Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Mark Stone and Alex Tuch added the other goals for the Golden Knights. Tuch also tacked on two assists for a three-point game.
Marc-Andre Fleury and his golden pads, which match the metallic gold jerseys, made 20 saves for the win.
Production Is Increasing
The Vegas Golden Knights are starting to get some big-time production. Alex Tuch’s three-point night was a welcome sight. Max Pacioretty extended his point streak to four games with an assist. Stone’s goal also extended his point streak to four games. Keegan Kolesar notched his first NHL point with an assist. And perhaps most important is that the VGK notched a power-play goal. Things are starting to come together.
Offense From the Defense
For the first time, this season the Vegas Golden Knights received goals from its defenders. Shea Theodore scored twice, and Alex Pietrangelo scored his first in a Vegas sweater. Alec Martinez and Nic Hague also added helpers. Head coach Pete DeBoer likes his defensemen active and involved in the play, and they certainly were Wednesday night. Here’s to hoping that trend continues in Arizona.
Taking Advantage of the Schedule
As we pointed out before the season, the schedule couldn’t be more conducive to an early run for the Vegas Golden Knights. Already at 4-0 to start the season, they could hit 6-0 and potentially 12-2 or better depending on how things shake out. The difference this year? Going 6-0 to start would be like going 10-0 in a regular 82-game schedule. Getting that far out in front makes it hard for other teams to catch the Golden Knights. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but until Vegas plays the Colorado Avalanche on Valentine’s Day, only two of the team’s first 14 games come against a playoff club from last year (St. Louis Blues).
The Rotation Continues
Marc-Andre Fleury made the start last night for the Vegas Golden Knights, wearing his new gold pads to coincide with the second appearance of the team’s gold uniforms. Fleury stopped 20 shots to earn the win and is now 2-0 on the season.
Take to the Sky
The Vegas Golden Knights will now take to the road for the last two games against the Coyotes in this series. The two teams play Friday at 6 pm PT and Sunday at 1 pm PT to round out the week.
Robin Lehner New Pads Revealed
Earlier today on Twitter, @GoalieGearNerd revealed the new set of gear Robin Lehner will wear courtesy of Brians Custom Sports (@goaliesonly). The new pads feature a black background, gold and silver slash stripes, and the outline of a dismounted knight brandishing his sword.
— Goalie Gear Nerd (@GoalieGearNerd) January 20, 2021
Robin Lehner has worn some standout designs everywhere he’s played, and Vegas is no exception. We can’t wait to see these stopping pucks for the Vegas Golden Knights this season.