In their opening round loss to the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins utilized three goalies; Casey DeSmith left during Game 1 with an injury, Louis Domingue iced a bulk majority of the series, and Tristan Jarry played the Game 7 loss.
This offseason, two of those goaltenders are unrestricted free agents and the Penguins will have some holes to fill in net.
DeSmith and Domingue are both due for new deals and the Penguins shouldn’t be afraid to let both 30-year-old backups hit the open market.
While there are decent goalie prospects in the Penguins’ system, they are not ready for the jump to the NHL, even as a backup.
Elliotte Friedman spoke on the Pat McAfee Show about contract negotiations for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, but he also mentioned the possibility of a future Hall of Famer returning to Pittsburgh.
“There’s a chance [Marc-Andre] Fleury is coming back to Pittsburgh,” Friedman said.
Friedman discussed that during the 2021-22 season, the Washington Capitals made a hard push to acquire Fleury but he turned it down because of his loyalty to the Penguins.
“Washington wanted Fleury really bad,” Friedman said. “But he wouldn’t be traded to the Capitals because he was like ‘I might want to go back to Pittsburgh.’”
It was pretty well known around the trade deadline that Fleury had turned Washington down, but he was eventually dealt to the Minnesota Wild.
Despite not having played for the Penguins since their Stanley Cup victory in 2017, Fleury still feels a great sense of pride and allegiance to Pittsburgh.
Ever since Fleury was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 Expansion Draft, there has been talk about a return to Pittsburgh.
It's become almost inevitable, and now it seems more possible than ever.
Fleury is due for a new contract and the Penguins are in need of a backup.
Despite still being one of the top goalies in the NHL, and only a year removed from winning the Vezina Trophy, at 37-years-old it’s unlikely Fleury will be able to demand a lot of money.
Wrapping up a three-year, $7 million deal, Fleury is likely looking for his final contract before hanging up the pads and calling it a career.
The namesake does carry some weight to a negotiation table, however; Fleury is third all time in wins with 520 and has the potential to make a jump on that list.
Fleury stands only 31 wins behind Patrick Roy and if Fleury plays another two seasons as a starter that should be an easy number to reach.
The position of 'starter' is where there could be a snag between Fleury and the Penguins.
Fleury still has the skill and stamina to perform as a starter in the NHL despite his advanced age, but Jarry is the Penguins top goalie.
It’s Jarry’s net and not even a future Hall of Famer should take it from him.
A return to Pittsburgh would be a perfect storybook ending for Fleury, even if he's willing to play backup.
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