Minnesota Wild fans have enjoyed seeing future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury suit up for their team over the past two seasons. Even well past his prime, Fleury's infectious personality, penchant for pranking, and idiosyncracies have delighted fans across the State of Hockey.
As for his play? It's maybe hit or miss. Fleury's had a .905 save percentage since arriving in Minnesota, including this season's .897 save percentage that rates as his lowest since the first George W. Bush administration. Still, Fleury has his moments. He's posting a .912 save percentage over 14 games under John Hynes.
But according to some real, actual NHL players, Fleury's still the gold standard for NHL goalies. The Athletic conducted a poll of 183 NHLers on many topics including "Who is the best goalie in the league." According to 2.73%, the answer is the man they call "Flower." Multiply 183 by .0273, and that comes out to five NHLers.
To put it in perspective, Juuse Saros, the Nashville Predators' career .917 goalie, and top-four finisher in Vezina Trophy voting for two straight years, got just six votes. Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars, a 25-year-old who put up a .919 save percentage as a workhorse starter for one of the league's top teams last year, got two.
"I know he's not the best, but I like him the best," an anonymous NHLer said of Fleury. "He's been so good for so long. I'm sticking with Flower."
Holding a 39-year-old, sub-.900 goalie in such high regard is kind of a "hockey man" thing to do. The good news for the Wild is that if they're able to find a spot for Fleury to waive his no-move clause to go to, that GM is almost certainly going to be a "hockey man." Fleury may still carry a premium if the players' poll reflects the thinking of the GMs. Multiply 31 teams by .0273, and that suggests there's about one GM who may still think Fleury's on the top of the pile.
- Warm up your voice to do your best Italian accent: Jake Lucchini is back. Pat Maroon is now on injured reserve. [Minnesota Wild]
- The Wild are back to work. They'll play the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. [The Athletic]
- The analytical model that's highest on the Wild this season belongs to Dom Luszczyszyn, and even that's only giving Minnesota a 1-in-6 chance to make the playoffs. Grim. [The Athletic]
- In brighter analytical model news: Danila Yurov is good. Eight goals and 12 points over his last 10 games. [Byron Bader, Twitter]
- You can help out The Minnesota Wild School For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too. Just get ready for their upcoming book drive on February 9. [Minnesota Wild]
- This is why you go with American Express. [The Hockey News]
- The Wild have to figure out their way out of this mediocre cycle. [Hockey Wilderness]
Off the Trail...
- The New Jersey Devils are as far from a playoff spot as the Wild, so getting their MVP back should help a bit. [ESPN]
- Does Ohio really need a second NHL franchise that no one cares about? [Cincinnati Enquirer]
- Oh, hey, the NHL is going back to the Olympics. [NHL.com]
- Nikita Kucherov treated the NHL All-Star Game about as seriously as I did, tbh. [Defector]
- Five NHLers have officially been charged with sexual assault as the Hockey Canada 2018 World Junior case continues to progress. All five of these players are on leave from their teams. [CBS News]
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