Penguins goalie Fleury likely to enter season without new contract
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is almost certain to enter the 2014-15 season without a new contract, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said.
Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh, is fine with the arrangement.
Rutherford on Monday told the Tribune-Review that signing Fleury, who could become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2015, isn't on his immediate agenda.
“I'm not in a hurry to do a contract with him,” Rutherford said.
Walsh isn't offended by Rutherford's decision.
“We're actually on the same page,” Walsh said. “It's of no consequence at all.”
Former Penguins general manager Ray Shero signed Fleury to a seven-year, $35 million contract in July 2008. Fleury responded by carrying the Penguins to the Stanley Cup the next season but has since endured inconsistent patches that have turned him into a polarizing player.
However, Fleury enjoyed perhaps the most consistent season of his career in the 2013-14 campaign, finishing second in the NHL in wins (39). Among goalies who played at least 40 games, Fleury produced the ninth-best goals-against average (2.37) and 16th-best save percentage (.915).
“I think he's one of the most talented goalies in the league,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said he envisions Fleury as the team's long-term goaltender.
“From my point of view, he's our goalie,” Rutherford said. “There's no reason why he can't be our goalie for a long time.”
Many in the organization attribute Fleury's newfound consistency to goaltenders coach Mike Bales, who started working with Fleury on a full-time basis last season. The Penguins fired coach Dan Bylsma and assistants Tony Granato and Todd Reirden after last season, but retained Bales.
Walsh said Fleury remains loyal to the Penguins and would like to work out a new contract before July 1.
“Marc-Andre loves the city of Pittsburgh, and he loves the Penguins,” Walsh said. “He wants to be a Penguin for the rest of his career.”
Right now, however, Fleury isn't thinking about the rest of his career. And the Penguins aren't thinking too far into the future.
“If there is mutual interest to get a deal done at some point, then we'll talk,” Walsh said. “The only thing Marc-Andre wants to focus on right now is next season, and that's what he's going to do.”
Rutherford echoed that sentiment.
“I had a real nice talk with Marc-Andre,” Rutherford said. “I told him to keep doing this summer whatever he did last summer. He had a really good year.”
Fleury and his presumed backup entering the season, Thomas Greiss, are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who could begin the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, is under contract for the next two seasons.
Note: Coach Mike Johnston revealed his assistants' roles for the upcoming season. Rick Tocchet will oversee the power play and the forwards, and Gary Agnew will coach the penalty-killing unit and defensemen. Johnston will spend much of his time working with centers and defensemen.
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