The Vegas Golden Knights are a few days away from beginning the Western Conference Finals in their inaugural season. Although this success throughout the regular season and playoffs should be credited to every player on the roster, a lot of credit needs to be given to Marc-Andre Fleury.
With talks dating back to the middle of last season, it seemed like a sure thing that Fleury would be taken by the Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft following the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is what made it even more of a bittersweet moment when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season sending Fleury off with his third Stanley Cup ring since entering the NHL in the 2003-04 season. Despite the adaptations that many knew would come with assembling a new team, Fleury has thrived at the task at hand and helped bring his team within 8 wins of the Stanley Cup.
Although being limited to just 46 games due to injury, Fleury compiled an excellent first season with the Golden Knights gathering a 29-13-4 record with a 2.24 GAA and .927% save percentage. In terms of numbers Fleury not only had career years in terms of goals against average and save percentage, but also finished the season tied for second in goals against average league wide, but also finished with the fifth highest save percentage throughout the league.
This high level of play has carried over and then some since Vegas began the climb for the Stanley Cup. After sweeping the Los Angeles Kings and defeating the San Jose Sharks in six games, the Golden Knights await the winner of the Winnipeg Jets/Nashville Predators series to see who will be the last team in their way before they play for the Stanley Cup. In the 10 games the Golden Knights have played thus far Fleury has accumulated an astonishing 8-1-1 record with a 1.53 GAA, .951% save percentage and four shutouts. This has Fleury leading goaltenders in all categories league wide and is miles ahead of his personal career highs during the playoffs which was set during the 2007-08 playoffs. Fleury and Vegas are still only half way to the ultimate prize, but if Fleury can continue to play at this elite level, the Golden Knights will have one amazing chance to make history.
If this easy transition to playing in a new city and on a new team proves anything, it’s that Fleury still has plenty of gas left in the tank and is showing no signs of slowing down. Since being drafted by the Penguins with the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Fleury has been one of the best netminders in the league and is quickly climbing the ranks in the record books. In his 14 years in the NHL Fleury has compiled a 404-229-72 record with a 2.56 GAA, .913% save percentage and 52 shutouts along with being a three time Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic Gold medalist. At 33 years old and having one more year on his current contract, it would shock me if the Golden Knights, or frankly anyone didn’t ink Fleury to another multi-year extension for some serious cash. If he can stay healthy and keep playing above average into his late 30s he should be a solid consideration for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Speaking of Hall of Fame, Fleury has already put himself alongside some incredible netminders. With his 404 career wins Fleury currently sits 11th all time in terms of wins. With another successful season under his belt next season (at least 30ish wins) he will be in the top 10 and should be 8th or 9th depending on the success of other potential HOFer Henrik Lundqvist. Add in the possibility of another handful of successful years and Fleury could very well push for 500 wins before he retires potentially winning another Stanley Cup along the way.
There’s no way to know how far the Golden Knights will go in their inaugural season, but Marc-Andre Fleury has certainly already made his mark on Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL as a whole.