The Vegas Golden Knights and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury agreed to a three-year contract extension, the team announced Friday.
The deal is worth $21 million and will kick in at the beginning of the 2019–20 season.
Fleury, 33, went 29-13-4 last season with the expansion Knights, with a 2.24 goals against average and .927 save percentage, marking one of the best statistical seaons of his career. He spent the first 13 years of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins and won three Stanley Cups with the team before being selected by Vegas in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
“This organization gave me a chance to play, to play a lot of games, they believed in me,” Fleury said during a news conference. “The success that we had over the season, winning always makes everything better. And then the fans, how much they supported us right from day one. They were crazy all season long and the playoffs were a lot of fun to play. We could really feel the intensity in the building from the fans."
In his first season with the Golden Knights, Fleury quickly became the face of the new franchise and led them to the Stanley Cup Final, where they were beaten in five games by the Washington Capitals. He started all 20 postseason games this season and finished with 13 wins and a 2.24 GAA.
His resurgence after losing the starting job to Matt Murray in Pittsburgh was keyed by a strong relationship with Vegas goalie coach Dave Prior, who played a big role in Fleury's extension.
“When we made the expansion draft play for Marc-Andre, our staff and Dave Prior believed that we could get him playing as well as he’s ever played and even better, and that’s exactly what happened,” Golden Knights GM George McPhee said. “Dave went to work with Marc-Andre and Marc-Andre was open-minded and worked with Dave and had a terrific season."
Further rule changes coming to goalie quipment are expected to be of benefit to athletic goalies like Fleury.
“At Dave’s advice we thought a three-year extension was the appropriate extension in terms of time. Marc-Andre is a very athletic, very quick, very agile goaltender. Not one of the big, lumbering hit me goaltenders, and we could get four very good years from Marc. The deal was there to be done, so we thought it was the right time to do it.”
In locking up Fleury, the Golden Knights solidify their crease for the next few seasons, giving backup Malcolm Subban and prospects Maxime Lagace and Dylan Ferguson time to develop. Goaltending became a cause for attention with Vegas this season after Fleury was sidelined by a concussion, beginning a stretch in which the team was forced to play five different netminders.
It's the latest move this summer for the Golden Knights, who signed center Paul Stastny to three-year deal while letting forwards Jame Neal and David Perron leave via free agency. Still on the docket for McPhee, however, are new deals for RFAs William Karlsson, the team's leading goal scorer in 2017-18, and defenseman Shea Theodore.