Debate: Keep Fleury or Trade Fleury

“Trade Marc-Andre Fleury before the deadline.” – Brad Franjione

Unfortunately, due to the expansion draft, this is likely Marc-Andre Fleury‘s last year in a Penguins uniform.  It will be sad to see him go, but it is a move that Rutherford has to make.  He will have to make that decision either before the NHL trade deadline or sometime after the NHL season is over between the draft and the expansion draft.

I know you want to hang onto Fleury, Mr. Rutherford, but now is the time to trade him.  Why, you ask?

At this point, the Penguins have clearly committed to Matt Murray as the starting goaltender.  He has been the starting goaltender in the last 6 contests, despite letting up 7 goals in the Penguins crazy 8-7 OT win against the Capitals.

Murray, despite allowing 7 goals in that game and 7 total in his last 2, still holds a 2.42 GAA and a .921 save percentage.  Take away the game against the Caps and Murray boasts a 2.22 GAA and a .928 save percentage.  Fleury, on the other hand, holds a 3.23 GAA and a .904 save percentage.

I do believe Fleury’s numbers would be much better if he was playing more often as the number 1 goaltender, but with Murray performing the way he has, Murray has earned the starting job.  Even though Fleury is the backup at this point, one of the main reasons Rutherford wants to keep Fleury is in case of injury, especially considering what the Penguins went through last year going into the playoffs.

For me, keeping Fleury “in case of injury” is not the route the Penguins should take.  If the Penguins want to win another Stanley Cup, and become the first team to win it in back-to-back seasons in the salary cap era, “playing it safe” is not how it’s done.

Marc-Andre Fleury should be traded before the trade deadline for a top 6/7th defenseman.

When the Penguins boast a healthy lineup, I think they have a legitimate chance at winning the Cup again, being that the only significant player they lost in the offseason was Ben Lovejoy.  But unfortunately, injuries exist.  Kris Letang has been in and out of the lineup, Evegni Malkin is out, Matt Cullen is out, Patric Hornqvist has been banged up, and it shows when these guys are absent or not 100%.

The Penguins have the forward depth to win a Cup.  When completely healthy, guys such as Tom Kuhnhackl,  Eric Fehr, or Scott Wilson could be healthy scratches.  In addition, the Penguins have guys such as Carter Rowney and Oskar Sundqvist in their farm system, who could fill in holes if necessary.  However, the Penguins are lacking defensively.

Chad Ruhwedel has played better than expected, but with Letang out, do you really want Ruhwedel to be the first guy off the bench as a 7th defenseman come playoff time?  Because as of now, I would say he is the Penguins’ 7th defenseman.  Cameron Gaunce played alright while he was up, Derrick Pouliot will likely stay in the AHL for the rest of the season, Steve Oleksy is only good for hitting people and fighting…none of these guys strike me as a solid 7th defenseman, which is what Ben Lovejoy was last year.  When Daley was hurt in the playoffs last year, I had no problem with Lovejoy taking his position.

If the Penguins wait until the NHL draft, teams that have goalie issues will likely have already made trades to solve those issue, such as the Blues, who are rumored to have been looking at Ben Bishop.  In that case, the Penguins would essentially end up having to “dump” Fleury, and the trade they would make would become more of a salary cap dump as opposed to a trade where Fleury has half-decent value.

So I ask you this: would you rather the Penguins have another top 6/7th defensemen going into the playoffs by simply trading Fleury to a team that needs a goalie, or would you rather keep Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench as a backup “just in case of injury” throughout the rest of the season and playoffs, and then dump his salary for maybe a 3rd round pick in order to protect Murray?  For me, the answer is obvious.

“Keep Marc-Andre Fleury until the end of the season.” –Jeffrey Rask

Imagine this: Matt Murray being as thin and fragile as he is, sustains a season ending injury. Now if we were to trade Fleury at the deadline, we would be left depending on Tristan Jarry. I’m not saying that he isn’t backup material, but there’s no way he’s ready to take on that kind of promotion yet.

Marc-Andre Fleury has not been his usual, strong, brick wall self. The team has lost faith in him and so have the coaches. His morale is down and he is not trying to his fullest potential in my opinion. Right now, if we were to trade him, the return would be very less than what is deserved for him. If you let him start more, it gives him the chance to show the league he still has it. That he deserves to be a No.1 goaltender… just not in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins are open to buying out his contract and letting him become a free agent. Why? Fleury is the best goaltender in Penguins history. It hurts to know that he has to go, but we deserve to get something sizable back for the 2 time Stanley Cup Champion. Flower still has about 5-6 years left in his career and I know he can do huge things with them, just not with the Pens.

Take this into account: Fleury has had 7 30+ win seasons over his 13 seasons with the Penguins. Over his 13 seasons, most of which he was the starter, he played 60+ games… which is a pretty big workload for a goaltender. This also took a toll on his save percentage.

Being an above average goaltender isn’t always in the stats. If you’ve ever watched the Penguins play, you’ve seen the incredible saves Flower has made; you’ve seen the morale boost he brings to the players; you’ve seen what an amazing goaltender he is. It sucks to see him go, but I’d like to see him in the Penguins jersey for as long as possible.

Just because he’s not number 1 on the ice, doesn’t mean he’s not number 1 in our hearts.

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