Marc-Andre Fleury Named as Trade Option for Flyers Prior to ‘Likely Retirement’
We haven’t even reached the All-Star break yet but the Minnesota Wild are already in danger of falling out of the Western Conference playoff race. There’s still plenty of time to figure things out before the trade deadline hits on March 8, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the in-season clock is a friend of president of hockey operations, Bill Guerin.
Early season struggles have the Wild backed into such a brutal corner that every single loss, even in January, is devastating. It’s so bad that one short losing streak will likely sink any realistic chances Minnesota has at making the NHL postseason. And should they fall out of it, their Guerin is expected to go into sell-mode, leading up to the deadline.
What would Minnesota Wild “sell-mode” look like?
Now, “sell-mode’ is a relative term. If you’re looking for ‘BLOWOUT SALE’ banners hanging around Xcel Energy Center, you’ll be disappointed.
Veteran contract extensions inexplicably offered by Guerin, before the start of the season, and happily accepted by rusting vets like Marcus Foligno, Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman have handcuffed the Wild from doing much of anything. Had those guys not been extended, all three would have been very valuable expiring contract assets at the trade deadline.
“Remember, even if Guerin still wanted to bring Hartman, Zuccarello and Foligno back, he could have still dealt them come March and attempted to re-sign some or all next summer. Now they all have no-move clauses. So they’re here to stay.”The Athletic
So instead of a massive blowout sale, the Wild’s trade deadline sell-mode will look more like a local grocery store clearance rack. There are a few potentially tempting items available (but they’re cheap and on clearance for a reason).
Marc-Andre Fleury to Flyers, then retirement?
One of the few players who is all but guaranteed to be moved, if the Minnesota Wild enter sell-mode, is 39-year-old goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who first landed in St. Paul as part of a trade deadline deal with the Chicago Blackhawks back in March, 2022. MAF is pretty much on the block already and steam surrounding his eventual landing spot has picked up recently.
On Thursday evening, MAF popped up again on a list of potential trade targets for the Philadelphia Flyers, who are seeking a netminder they can pair with rookie, Sam Ersson, after their starter Carter Hart went out indefinitely with injury.
According to NHL insider Jim Cerny (Sportsnaut), Marc-Andre Fleury is one of six goalies who Philly might have interest in. Of course, with the Wild sitting near the bottom of the West, any contender that needs goalie help is going to be loosely linked to MAF. Cerny’s mention of Fleury’s likely retirement, however, caught my attention.
Fleury holds the cards here. It’s likely his final NHL season and he will have a say if he goes anywhere and where he’d like to end up. If Fleury believes the Flyers are a legit contender and is willing to split time with Ersson, this could work.Jim Cerny – Sportsnaut
Fleury trying to avoid pre-retirement circus?
In case you missed it, it’s been reported a bit more recently how uncomfortable Fleury gets when he returns to Pittsburgh, after he helped them win three Stanley Cups from 2009-2018. He’s just too beloved there. Every time he goes back to that city, he’s thrown off by the many ancillary distractions that come along with the history he helped create for that fanbase and franchise.
We know MAF wants to play for a contending team, but that’s been the case for multiple seasons now. Locally, reporters have played coy with Fleury’s retirement plans, trying to leave the door open for a possible return next year.
But here’s an NHL insider with three decades of experience around the league — which includes broadcasting in the NY markets and reporting for the NY Times and NHL.com — who seems very confident that this is Fleury’s final season wearing the pads professionally.
MAF doesn’t like the spotlight being on him, when it comes to ceremonies and awkward award celebrations, especially when he has hockey to play after. So for all the hockey fans out there, enjoy one of the world’s greatest goalies in hockey history while you can.