Two months ago, in another move that shocked the hockey world, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired the reigning Vezina trophy winner for basically nothing (with apologies to Mikael Hakkarainen).
There were a few days where Marc-Andre Fleury considered retirement, which would’ve been totally understandable. Moving a young family to a new city and seemingly being slapped in the face over and over again by a franchise is a lot to take in. He gave it his all, both on and off the ice in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the front office never gave him the same respect back. But Fleury wants to continue his hall of fame career, going to a Chicago team that needs the quality of goaltending he brings.
While Fleury was playing on a Vegas team that finished second overall in the league, he was still very worthy of his Vezina trophy win. According to naturalstattrick.com, in all strength situations, here’s where he ranked in certain metrics.
- SV: .928% (Ranked 3rd)
- GSAA : 20.15 (Ranked 4th)
- HDSV: .846% (Ranked 6th)
- HDGSAA: 9.76 (Ranked 4th)
That’s pretty impressive, but some analytics sites have him even higher.
- Sportlogiq (Ranked second)
- TopDownHockey (Ranked first)
- EvolvingHockey (Ranked first)
- MoneyPuck (Ranked third)
Vegas is unquestionably a better defensive team, and team in general, then Chicago. However, the Golden Knights weren’t at the top of the league, but rather much closer to middle of the pack in terms of chances they allowed against. Also, take into consideration that other than facing Colorado and Minnesota, they were in a considerably weak division.
- Corsi Against: 2379 (Ranked 13th)
- Fenwick Against: 1708 (Ranked 8th)
- Expected Goals Against: 104.38 (Ranked 22nd)
- High Danger Chances Against: 469 (Ranked 18th)
The last time Chicago acquired an elite backstop was Robin Lehner via free agency in 2019. He went from the New York Islanders, who were the best defensive team in the league, to the Blackhawks, who were the worst defensive club. Despite that, Lehner still posted a .918 save percentage in Chicago. So, it’s not as if Fleury is going from the best to worst defensive team. As mentioned before, Vegas was a middle of the pack defensive team, and though Chicago was bottom of the league last year in defence, they made some improvements to their back-end.
From a statistical standpoint, even if Fleury doesn’t put up a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage, he’s still a huge upgrade on Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban. Let’s say he puts up a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage, the Blackhawks would very much welcome that.
From a personal standpoint, I believe Marc-Andre Fleury is gonna have another great year. I think he wants to prove Vegas wrong, earning starting goaltender honours for Hockey Canada at the 2022 Olympics, and at the same time, be a huge part of a Chicago team who could potentially go for a deep run with all the pieces they have. We’ve seen him do this before with a first year expansion team in the Golden Knights and I think he’s capable of doing it again.
Of all the huge moves the Blackhawks made throughout the offseason, I think it’s fair to say that Flower will have the most immediate impact. I’m looking forward to what he brings to this organization as a leader on the ice, but also off the ice.