The Real Debate

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a goalie situation. That is obviously not a surprise at all. Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury are the current NHL goalies and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The young, 21-year old protege currently being flanked by the man who helped win the Penguins a Stanley Cup in 2009. It’s a perfect storm.

But you guys are missing the real point. We aren’t going to see Fleury in the playoffs unless we go down 3-0 in a series and the Penguins have to make a desperation move. That just seemed to be the consensus. The debate is no longer “Who’s going to start in goal for the Penguins tonight?”, but rather “What is Marc-Andre Fleury’s future in Pittsburgh?”.

This question has become relevant. It’s one that’s going to begin plaguing the organization as early as this offseason. There are teams who may be one goalie away from becoming an elite threat in a playoff race.

As a 30 year old Flower is at a prime time in his career, so there is no reason a rebuilding team is going to swing a deal for a guy like Fleury. He is suited more for a team like Calgary who really has a nice makeup of a team, but had a pathetic goalie situation throughout the year. They’ve got some pieces that could come the Pens way in a trade as well. I’m not suggesting that Fleury will be traded to the Flames, or even traded at all, but the NHL is a business.

Now do I expect Fleury to be traded this offseason? I do not. But with the emergence of Matt Murray and the proof that Murray can handle the heavy load and play in the grueling Stanley Cup playoffs, there is no doubt that any team with a goalie problem will at least give a call to Jim Rutherford to see Flower’s availability.

In my opinion, trading Fleury still doesn’t even become an option until after next season. A case can be made that you will see more of a time share between Fleury and Murray next season but there is a problem with that.

Marc-Andre Fleury is an awful goaltender when he doesn’t play the vast majority of the games that season. It’s statistically proven. If you need that proof, check here:

It clearly shows that if Fleury is playing a ton of games without a backup goalie getting too many opportunities to play, then Flower finds a groove and plays better. Why is this a problem? Well if the Penguins want to get rid of Flower, why would you let Murray play, on example, 35 games or so next year? You obviously want a definitive view of where you’re going with your future goalie situation, but your also possibly ruining Flower’s trade value at the same time.

Even if the Penguins were to go on and win the Stanley Cup, I need to see that Matt Murray isn’t just a hot hand. I need more proof that he’s a great goaltender and that proof comes through playing this season.

It’s really hard to keep a contract like Fleury’s on the bench. He makes $5.75 million which is a really good deal for a starting goaltender. I would hate to see another team take on such a nice contract. But after next season, the Penguins will be forced to resign Matt Murray. At that point, Fleury will still have two seasons left on his deal and the Penguins aren’t going to want to be paying two goalies.

I’m not even suggesting the Penguins trade Marc-Andre Fleury. I hate the very thought of it. He’s my favorite player on this team. But he’s going to begin falling out of favor. Matt Murray looks to be the future goaltender of the Pittsburgh Penguins. We must accept this. We must realize that every rose has its thorn. Marc-Andre Fleury was a blessing to the franchise who took us to two Stanley Cups (and was at fault for us not winning others) but as I stated before, the NHL is a business.

I hate losing in Monopoly and I don’t think the Penguins enjoy it either.

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