NHL Analyst Keith Jones stopped by to talk about the Pittsburgh Penguins on 93.7 The Fan this week. Of the several subjects covered, one of the most interesting was his take on Marc-Andre Fleury.
Heading into free agency, rumors have swirled of his potential return to Pittsburgh. Many suggest he would be the ideal backup to Tristan Jarry. However, Keith Jones didn't buy into that proposal and gave several reasons why the Penguins and Fleury are not a match.
One of the biggest issues Jones took with Fleury returning to the Penguins, was his belief that Fleury is still a starting goaltender. Despite most recently splitting time in Minnesota with Cam Talbot, Jones stated in the interview that he believes Fleury is still a "very capable netminder."
Jones went on to say that several teams throughout the league are willing to let him be a number one goalie still. Playoff teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, or Colorado Avalanche could all be in the market for a new starting goaltender. If Fleury wants to prove he's still "the guy" in net, he'd be smart to look outside of Pittsburgh.
A talking point Jones' reiterated during the interview was the need for the Penguins to get younger. With Crosby approaching his 18th season, the championship window is the closest it's been to shut in Sid's whole career. To help maximize their remaining opportunities, Jones stressed the need to add some younger talent to the aging core. One of the younger players he was impressed with was Tristan Jarry.
When the topic of goaltending for the Penguins came up, Jones was quick to compliment Tristan Jarry's play this past season. "I think he showed a lot," Jones responded when asked about Jarry's play.
To Jones, Jarry has cemented himself as the number one goalie in Pittsburgh: "He's the guy who carries your mail." With Jarry being the unquestioned starter, the addition of Fleury as a backup is a luxury the Penguins don't need to prioritize. Instead, the Penguins should focus on finding a backup who understands and exceeds in that role.
It seems Fleury is determined to remain a starting goaltender in the league. Analysts like Jones are still high on his level of play, and it seems most of the league is as well. The Penguins are certain to be in the goalie market this summer, but for a true backup to Jarry.
The chatter about Fleury reuniting with the Penguins is a wonderful idea. He is still revered and admired by so many within the fanbase. And while it would be an excellent homecoming, unless Fleury is interested in sitting on the bench (again) for the Penguins, he most likely isn't returning anytime soon.
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