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.If I was an NHL GM, I'd never sign a goaltender to a seven-year deal.
"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.”
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.