Fleury traded to Wild by Blackhawks

“I just think the chance to get in the playoffs, to battle to get there, to battle to go in,” Fleury told TSN of the Wild. “That’s why we all play in the end. It’s something also with Minny, there’s also my family, which is going to stay in Chicago, Minny isn’t too far away. Obviously they have a great team, they’re very solid defensively , they have a lot of big guys and they play well. Good opportunity for me and hopefully things work out.”

The 37-year-old goalie is in the final season of a three-year, $21 million contract ($7 million average annual value) he signed with the Vegas Golden Knights on July 13, 2018 and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season .

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Fleury is 19-21-5 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in 45 games this season, his first with the Blackhawks after he was acquired in a trade with the Golden Knights on July 27, 2021.

He played all seven games in Vegas’ victory against the Wild in the Stanley Cup First Round last season. The Golden Knights took a 3-1 lead, lost the next two and won in seven games.

“Yeah, they certainly played well,” Fleury said. “We took the lead there in the series and they came back and tied it up right. I think that says a lot about their character in the room, and yeah. You can keep pushing for that.”

Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he worked closely with Fleury and his agent on trading him where he wanted to finish the season.

“Minnesota obviously was a very favorable location for him, so I’m glad we could work out something that worked for the Wild and Marc and also the Blackhawks,” Davidson said. “I think it worked out for all parties.”

Fleury arrived in Minnesota on Monday afternoon and was expected to back up Cam Talbot when the Wild host the Golden Knights on Monday (8 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSN, BSWI, ATTSN-RM, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

“‘Flower’ is one of those guys that doesn’t age,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin told TSN. “He’s an incredible athlete, he keeps himself in great shape. He’s a tremendous goalie, a future Hall of Famer. He has a good history of winning. I think our team and our market will love Flower just like everywhere else he’s been. We ‘re really excited to have him.

Tweet from @mnwild: Spring is here and the Flowers are suddenly in full bloom 🌸 #mnwild pic.twitter.com/nElfSsn40M

Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, Fleury is 511-297-85 with two ties, a 2.57 GAA, .913 save percentage and 71 shutouts in 928 games (903 starts) for the Blackhawks, Golden Knights and Penguins.

Guerin was a teammate of Fleury in Pittsburgh when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009. Guerin was also a member of the Penguins front office from 2012-19.

“I’ve known Billy for awhile right,” Fleury said. “It’s always nice to see him in the hallway and stuff when we come visit. Once I got on that first phone call with him after the trade to reassure me in the family stuff he was awesome. He’s a guy you can always count on and rely on. It’s pretty cool, pretty cool to be back on his team.”

He is first in wins among active goalies and ranks third in NHL history behind Patrick Roy (551) and Martin Brodeur (691). In 162 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Fleury is 90-70 with a 2.53 GAA, .912 save percentage and 16 shutouts. He won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

“In talking to my wife, how many years do I have left beyond this year to keep playing, playing in the playoffs, so we’ll try to get the most out of it,” Fleury said.

Video: Marc-Andre Fleury join Minnesota Wild

The Wild (36-20-4) are third in the Central Division, one point behind the second-place St. Louis Blues. Minnesota is 6-9-1 in its past 16 games.

Minnesota traded goalie Kaapo Kahkonen and a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft to the San Jose Sharks on Monday for defenseman Jacob Middleton.

Kahkonen is 12-8-3 with a 2.87 GAA and .910 save percentage in 25 games (23 starts) this season, including 1-5-1 with a 3.73 GAA and .879 save percentage since Feb. 16. The 25-year-old can become a restricted free agent after the season.

In addition to Fleury, the Wild also have goalie Cam Talbot, who is 24-12-1 with a 2.92 GAA and .907 save percentage in 38 games (37 starts) this season. He has a 3.33 GAA and .883 save percentage since Feb. 16 and can become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

“I think [the Wild] play very well defensively, they have some heavy guys, that’s always good in the playoffs when you play teams best out of seven,” Fleury said. “They have some speed, they have a good power play, they got some guys that can score . Knowing Bill Guerin (teammate with the Penguins from 2009-10), we had a chat after the trade was done to talk about things. I think Talbot’s a good goalie too. I’m sure together we can help this team hopefully make a run at it.”

Tweet from @mnwild: March showers bring Wild Flowers 🌸 pic.twitter.com/woOicumZck

If the Wild advance to the Western Conference Final and Fleury is the winning goalie of record in a minimum of four games in the first and second rounds combined, Chicago will receive Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2022. In the event both conditions are not met , Chicago will receive a second-round pick.

“This trade immediately puts us in a better position at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, giving us a pick that will land early in the draft,” Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said. “We are in a better position today at the upcoming draft than we were yesterday. In a short time with the Blackhawks, Marc-Andre made quite an impression on our fan base and in our locker room. We appreciate his willingness to work with us on finding a deal that worked for everyone. The Blackhawks wish him and his family the best in Minnesota.”

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