The NHL trade market is a cruel place, and it may be the most bitter day in the Vegas Golden Knights brief history. One of the most affable, likable players on and off the ice, one of the most successful goaltenders of his generation, and the original franchise face of the Golden Knights is no longer a Golden Knight.
UPDATE: The Vegas Golden Knights trade is also eye-popping for its return. Darren Dreger of TSN was the first to report the trade and the contents. The Golden Knights traded Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks for…nothing. However, the trade call revealed the Golden Knights received Mikael Hakkarainen.
Hakkarainen has played a few games in the Chicago system, split between the ECHL and AHL. He is not an NHL prospect.
The Golden Knights hold back any salary, but they will get nothing on the NHL trade market for the 2021 Vezina-winning goalie.
Fleury is the third-winningest goalie of all time (492) and just 59 wins behind Patrick Roy for second place. The three-time Stanley Cup winner was held back as the final and dramatic pick of the 2017 expansion draft as the Pittsburgh Penguins made a side-deal with the Golden Knights to select Fleury.
Fleury, 36, was Pittsburgh’s first-round choice and first overall pick in 2003. He won his first Stanley Cup when Pittsburgh defeated the Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, one year after losing to Detroit.
The goalie was 26-10-0 with six shutouts, and a .928 save percentage last season. His GAA was only 1.98. He appeared in 192 games over four seasons for the Golden Knights with a 117-60-14 record. In his Golden Knights career with a .917 save percentage and 2.41 GAA.
Fleury will join the Chicago Blackhawks, who are also expected to get Jonathan Toews back this season. Toews missed all of last season with a medical condition. Chicago won three Stanley Cups from 2010-2015.
Fleury has one year left on his contract, which carries a $7 million AAV. The Golden Knights were over the salary cap after signing defenseman Alec Martinez on Monday.