PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Some major changes could soon be coming to the Pittsburgh Penguins roster. Rumors are flying that the Penguins long-time goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be traded during the draft this weekend.
After a standout post-season for Matt Murray, some fans are wondering if he will be the team’s main goalie next season. And if so, where does that leave Fleury?READ MORE: Pennsylvania Weather: Some Northwestern Pa. Neighborhoods See Snow On Mother's Day
CONSOL Energy Center is all decked out and we have had the big parade. The Penguins are Stanley Cup champions. They also have two top-notch, world-class goaltenders.
The question is will both of them be in Pittsburgh when next season starts?
“You know, he was down. You know you always say you go back, a guy’s hurt, you put him back in the line-up, but this guy won a cup,” says fan Tom Hartman, of Sarver. “I don’t know. It’s a tough call. If you can build your team, you’ve got to get rid of him, I guess.”
With the NHL Draft this weekend in Buffalo, fans say they wouldn’t be surprised to see Fleury, affectionately called “The Flower” by fans and teammates, shipped out to another team.
“I think someone will… some team will try to grab him,” said Abdul Aziz, a Pens fan from Saudi Arabia.
Murray was one of the Pens’ brightest stars during the Stanley Cup run. He is just 22 and his $620,000 salary is one-ninth the $5.75 million what Fleury is guaranteed next year.
Plus, the Pens are almost $2 million over the league’s salary cap.
“It always does, especially here in Pittsburgh, but you would like to think the Pens weren’t as cheap as some other teams here. So, I don’t know, but yeah, I think you have to factor that in,” said Hartman.
Fleury was incredible in the regular season, winning 35 games, with a 2.29 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
But after a late-season concussion, Murray took his place. He won 15 playoffs games and the Pens’ fourth Stanley Cup.
With an expansion draft looming next season, some say the Pens may have too many good goalies, or do they?
“Play both of them, just alternate. ‘Cause they are both very, very good at their position,” says Hartman. “You know, they both are loved in Pittsburgh. They both won a cup.”
Without Fleury, no question the Pens don’t get into the playoffs. The question is now, will he be back for another run.
Elsewhere in the draft, Toronto have the first pick in the NHL draft. Though general manager Lou Lamoriello has been careful not to tip his hand, the consensus is the Maple Leafs will usher in the 100th year of pro hockey being played in Toronto by pinning their future on Arizona-born center, Auston Matthews.
The 18-year-old Matthews, who played pro hockey in Switzerland last season, is ranked first by NHL Central Scouting. Matthews has the chance to be the seventh U.S.-born player selected No. 1, and first since Patrick Kane by Chicago in 2007.
The next two rated players are Finnish-born forwards Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi.
The Maple Leafs have plenty riding on their selection.
They’re in the midst of a top-to-bottom overhaul after finishing with the NHL’s worst record and missing the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 years.
“I don’t know if it changes the timetable, but it certainly helps with the plan,” Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan said after Toronto won the draft lottery in April. “I think that we will feel satisfaction and validation if and when we get to the point where we’re truly a Stanley Cup-contending team.”READ MORE: Jason Gagorik Steps In As New Chief Of Whitehall Borough Police Department
Matthews is aware of the speculation of being Toronto-bound.
“Of course the possibility kind of runs through your head,” said Matthews, who had 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games for Zurich, and then led the United States with six goals in 10 games at the world championships in Russia last month. “I’m trying to take it day by day and enjoy this whole experience. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens come Friday.”
Though Flames President Brian Burke expects the draft order to be Matthews, Laine and Puljujarvi, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff declined to speculate who might still be available when Winnipeg selects second.
“Nothing surprises you in this draft,” Cheveldayoff said Thursday.
There’s more uncertainty regarding what teams will follow Toronto and Winnipeg.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have the No. 3 pick, and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said he wants to see which two players are taken ahead of him before determining whether to trade out of the spot.
“We’ve been taking phone calls all day today, all day yesterday, and there’s a lot of interest in that pick,” said Kekalainen, noting he’s had trade discussions with each team in the top 10. “I think we’re getting some serious and real offers right now.”
The Edmonton Oilers are shopping the No. 4 pick, with GM Peter Chiarelli in the market to add an established defenseman to a team stocked with young forwards.
“There’s a lot of talk, and it’s no secret we’re in the market for a defenseman, and we’re fully engaged,” said Chiarelli, who guessed there’s a better than 50 percent chance Edmonton will retain the pick. “It’ll ramp up until tomorrow.”
The Vancouver Canucks select fifth followed by the Calgary Flames at six in a draft order that features all seven Canadian-based teams selecting in the top 12. That’s a reflection of Canada’s franchises being shut out of playoff contention last season for the first time since 1969-70, when Toronto and Montreal both missed the postseason.
What’s also missing are top-ranked Canadian-born prospects in a draft class that could have as many as eight Americans among the first 15 players selected. Left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois, who is from Quebec, is expected to be selected among the first six picks.
The draft order has already been altered this week, with the Maple Leafs trading the 30th pick to Anaheim in a deal to acquire goalie Frederik Andersen.
The upcoming free-agency period, which opens July 1, looms over the draft, especially with teams being allowed to begin meeting with prospective free agents on Saturday. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos has a chance to lead the crop of free agents, with both Toronto and Buffalo among the contenders to sign him.
Though he’d prefer going first, Laine said he’d welcome the opportunity to be drafted by Winnipeg, where former Finnish star Teemu Selanne began his career in 1992.
Puljujarvi speaks little English, but made it clear where he believes he should be selected.
“I think I go to No. 1,” he said.
Puljujarvi had minor surgery a few weeks ago to repair his left MCL.
Canucks GM Jim Benning said the operation went well and he doesn’t expect it will affect Puljujarvi’s draft ranking.Man Convicted Of Attempted Kidnapping Of Police Officers In Alleged Ambush Plot
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