Thursday, July 03, 2008

Penguins lock Fleury in

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a seven-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.

"At a young age, Marc-Andre has established himself as one of the elite goaltenders in the game," Shero said. "He is coming off a tremendous performance in the playoffs and he was one of the main reasons we reached the Stanley Cup Final. It's great news for the Penguins organization and our fans to continue to sign our core group of young players.”
If I was an NHL GM, I'd never sign a goaltender to a seven-year deal.

As good as Fleury was in a half season this year, that's hardly any guarantee he'll be performing at that level five years from now, let alone seven.

The dollar figure, in terms of a cap hit, is just fine — I believe he comes in as the 10th highest paid goaltender in the league next season. But if we've learned anything in recent history, it's that you can't predict just how a netminder will turn out.

Five seasons ago, in 2002-03, the top goaltenders under 30 in the NHL were a mixed bag in terms of future success.

Patrick Lalime led the group in wins, followed by J-S Giguere, Dan Cloutier, Marty Turco, Marc Denis, Jocelyn Thibault, Tomas Vokoun, Pasi Nurminen, Jose Theodore and Roberto Luongo.

Others in the mix, but with less than 20 wins, included Manny Legace, Manny Fernandez, Kevin Weekes, John Grahame, Martin Biron, Evgeni Nabokov, Brent Johnson, Johan Hedberg and Brian Boucher.

Nine of those 19 are still starters in the NHL, five are backups, while the other four are either out of the league or on their way to being so.

Fleury has a terrific pedigree — he was a first-overall pick in 2003 and a junior hockey star — but it's anything but a sure thing he'll remain a top-notch starter for the life of this deal. He's also only played 174 regular season games in the NHL and was erratic prior to this season.

Still, it's a gamble that could really pay off for GM Ray Shero (or, more likely, his successor). If Fleury does stay the course and become a perennial Vezina canidate, $5-million will be a pittance by 2012 or so.

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At 4:16 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) It could have been much worse; some teams inexplicably sign their golaies to 15 year deals!

At 4:24 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:43 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha ... Yeah, the Islanders didn't make a smart move.

I think this Fleury deal is pretty solid. He's a talented goalie, who is not tested more in the playoffs and has a chance to grow. Not sure about the $5 million part, but I'm not a GM.

At 5:45 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a point but for teams the safe route can turn to disaster in a hurry.

With lower UFA age the problem for GMs is this: give a player 2-3 year deal so you can see is he really that good? If he is, he can jump ship without compensation and you look like an ass.

So basically giving longer deal and giving shorter deal have about equal risk because player most likely is good or bad (in today's black and white world).

Fleury has been major disappontment until half of this season. He was very good after his high ankle injury.

They went all the way to the final but there's on scary thing there. Fleury was Ray Emery 2! Pens advanced easily to finals and Fleury only needed to be ok, same as Emery year before.

Fleury probably don't end up in waivers etc. like Emery but there is risk that we'll see some more those uneven games from him like we saw between junior hockey and this spring.

Or he wins couple of Cups and Vezinas and Harts... and late Fred Shero is best known for being Ray Shero's father.

At 5:59 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely with the post above me. Flower was terrible in the Cup final. Why, I'm surprised he wasn't pulled in game five...he was so awful making all those saves. Pa-lease.

Dude had a forty win season last year. He was incredible in the playoffs this year. He'll have a strong D in front of him. Plus, he's freaking what, 23. He and the Pens will be just fine.

At 6:19 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger Jeremy said...

Ah! Poor Pasi Nurminen. He coulda been a contender. That's kind of a freaky example of how quickly a goalie's career can derail through a sudden injury, alongside Dan Blackburn and (I think) Jani Hurme.

Then again, the same thing could happen to a career-contract forward or defenseman just as easily. Mike Richards and Alex Ovechkin - be warned.

At 6:44 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quess Emery lost the final for Sens if his season can't be compared to, hm, Flower's.

Conklin did ok while he got his chance, too. I quess the point is that Fleury's deal can go both ways as with everybody.

His body of work in the NHL isn't up there yet so he has to stop a few more puck before he can get to that next level with Kiprusoff, Lundqvist, Luongo, Turco and King Brodeur.

Trade Flower to Leclaire or Lehtonen and Pens still got team for finals.

At 8:54 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

One thing to keep in mind is that Fleury could be better than a $5 million goaltender in the first several years of this contract. That's also the Penguins' window, though it could go longer if everyone turns out to be worth the deal they are signing. Pittsburgh, and in particular a GM who isn't on a long contract, would probably be willing to trade cap room from the last several years of the deal, when Fleury could easily be bad/hurt, to the front end of the deal. That's effectively what would make this a good contract. It is possible for Fleury to be good enough in the short term that a rational analysis would deem it worth the cap hit in five years.

That said, I wouldn't sign goalies to seven year deals, either.

At 2:31 a.m., July 04, 2008, Blogger Hooks Orpik said...

Fleury has the talent and quickness to be a top goaltender in the league for the next seven years. Compare his contract to that of guys like Lundqvist and Luongo it's favorable.

Though MAF has a lot to prove in terms of consistency, he's no doubt made his name as a top dog through this year's playoffs. 7 years is a long time, but more than likely the amount isn't that bad for the caliber of player (and personality) that they signed.


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