The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Mikael Hakkarainen.
This is a “trade” that will stir up a ton of drama for the next year. Fleury was beloved in Vegas, and you could say the same thing back. After winning the Vezina Trophy in 2020-21, the odds of the team actually dealing him were slim-to-none. But here we are. The Golden Knights, still cap-strapped, need to clear cap space. They will extended defenseman Alec Martinez and there are other moves to make. The team can also designate Robin Lehner as a long-term starter now. They clear Fleury’s $7 million cap hit for this year, but it comes at a price. That price? Goodwill. According to a tweet from Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, the player has still not heard anything from the team at the time of this writing despite the news leaking. Walsh also states that Fleury will consider with his family if he will play in Chicago. Despite having a year left on his contract, reports indicated that the veteran net minder could retire if he left Vegas. Well, he’s leaving now. The dynamic of whether Fleury retires or comes back with Chicago and eventually plays in Vegas will be a must-watch. The prospect that comes back is a 2018 5th round pick who has done very little in his professional career.
Hakkarainen, 23, had no points in six AHL games and one assist in six ECHL games in 2020-21. In his AHL career, all for the Rockford IceHogs, Hakkarainen has no points in 14 games.
There is so much risk involved with this deal on both sides, and the Blackhawks see a good portion of that. First of all, Fleury could retire and then leave the team with his cap hit. The Blackhawks were already in salary cap troubles. This trade puts them in the Vegas and Tampa Bay tier in the salary category, but not anything else. The Blackhawks had arguably the worst goaltending situations in the league prior to this deal. Fleury of course won his first Vezina Trophy this past year. He was dominant all around for the Knights. However, Fleury did struggle in the two seasons before. Given his age, even if Fleury plays he could do more harm to the Blackhawks than anything else.
Fleury, 36, had a 1.98 GAA, a .928 save percentage, and a 20.1 GSAA in 36 games for the Golden Knights in 2020-21. In his NHL career for the Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury has a .913 save percentage with a 2.55 GAA and a 63.6 GSAA in 883 games.