The Chicago Blackhawks already made a huge splash this offseason when they engineered a blockbuster trade for Columbus defenseman Seth Jones. This fills a desperately needed void in their defense line that was made all the worse by the exit of Duncan Keith. However, it is possible GM Stan Bowman might not be done yet. Does he have another bold move in mind for his team?
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman hinted as much during a recent post for Sportsnet. According to his belief, it seems the Las Vegas Golden Knights could be looking to unload one of their goalies via trade. Apparently, one such deal he’s heard whispers about was All-Star Marc-Andre Fleury being shipped out to Chicago. This would certainly be major news for Blackhawks fans who know their team needs an upgrade in the net.
“What does Vegas do? There were rumblings they had a move for someone that fell through. I thought it might be Robin Lehner to New Jersey or Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago. I also wondered Detroit before the Red Wings traded for Alex Nedeljkovic, but I’m not expecting Steve Yzerman to reveal much.”
This would be a significant move.
At least in the short term. Fleury had the best season of his career in 2020-2021. It included a .928 save percentage and 1.98 goals against average. He also delivered six shutouts in just 36 starts. If the Blackhawks got a player of his caliber in the net along with Jones’ arrival on defense? This team could quickly become a serious playoff contender once again. Something they’ve strived for since having to dismantle their dynasty over the past few years.
The big question here is the price. As good as Fleury is, he also turns 37-years old in November. There is no telling how much gas he has left in the tank. He could decline swiftly upon being moved or could continue his rock solid play past his 40th year. There is just no telling when the regression will come. That uncertainty is why the Blackhawks must be wary, especially after all they gave up to get Jones.
Chicago Blackhawks can’t be faulted for this win-now thinking
They only have so much time left with their old core of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews is 33-years old and coming off a year-long bout with CIRS. Kane turns 33 himself in November. Combined with the rising Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik, the Blackhawks have the offensive firepower to once again compete. The problem has been their inability to keep other teams from scoring too.
That is why their focus has stayed on the defensive side all offseason. Acquiring Jones was a huge boost to these efforts, but securing somebody like Fleury would be the finishing touch. Kevin Lankinen was the primary starter for the Chicago Blackhawks last season. He went 17-14 with a .909 save percentage. That tied him for 18th in the NHL among players who started at least 20 games in goal. Fleury ranked 3rd.
So it would be an upgrade.
Those two could then form a solid tandem going into 2021-2022. Of course, this is all speculation. No deal has happened yet and it’s not clear if the prime opportunity has already passed. If nothing else, this is a clear indication the Blackhawks remain aggressive and are searching for help in the net. This is a good thing. Especially if they want to compete in that merciless division.