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  • The Wild Should Explore A Trade For Marc-Andre Fleury

    Alex Gehlert

    Since taking over the starting goaltending responsibilities last season after the departure of longtime netminder Devan Dubnyk, Cam Talbot has proven to be a reliable goaltender for the Minnesota Wild. Talbot has handled most of the workload since signing with Minnesota last year. He has been exactly what the Wild wanted when they signed him: A goalie capable of making the stops that the team needs him to make.


    During Dubnyk’s final seasons in St. Paul, the Wild were a defensively sound team, rarely allowing opponents to generate quality scoring chances. But Dubnyk’s decline jeopardized the team’s chances of stringing together wins. Minnesota missed the playoffs two years straight, and his fast, sudden decline was the biggest culprit.


    With the Wild currently sitting near the top of the league standings and getting solid goaltending from Talbot, bringing in a decorated netminder to share the workload may be precisely what Minnesota needs to go on an extended playoff run. And who would be better suited for a Stanley Cup run than Marc-Andre Fleury?


    Fleury has been connected to Minnesota before. Before the Wild signed Cam Talbot, and Fleury’s future with the Vegas Golden Knights was in question after the infamous picture released by his agent Allan Walsh. Many speculated that trading for the three-time Cup champion could benefit the Wild and Fleury. Minnesota would get an upgrade in net, and Fleury would go to a team where he would be without question the starting goalie for a team looking to get back into the playoffs.


    While it wasn't in the cards then, now is the perfect time to revisit bringing Fleury to St. Paul. Adding Fleury would help improve the Wild’s goaltending and provide some critical Stanley Cup experience to a team looking to make a run.


    Adding Fleury to the Wild’s roster would be a massive boost for the team. He and Talbot would be able to take on more of a 1a-1b tandem that would lighten Talbot’s workload and give the Wild the ability to ride the hot hand in the playoffs.


    However, acquiring Fleury could be harmful to Kaapo Kahkonen’s development. After a rough first outing against the Nashville Predators, he has seemed to settle down and become more consistent. Over his last three starts, Kahkonen has had a .939 save percentage stopping 93 of 99 shots, showing he can keep the Wild in tight games. The jury is still out on what Kahkonen’s ceiling will be in the NHL. But the addition of goalie prospect Jesper Wallsdedt raises questions about whether or not Kahkonen will be the eventual starter in Minnesota. But for now, he is a solid backup capable of keeping the team competitive when Talbot needs a night off.


    The Chicago Blackhawks are a bottom-10 team in need of a rebuild. They'd likely jump at the chance to get a pick for a pending UFA and save money. The Wild cannot fit his $7 million cap hit under the cap, but that rarely seems to be an issue nowadays. How many trades involve a third team laundering cap hits for a meager pick? And with Bill Guerin's infatuation with bringing in quality players with who he has previous connections, you have to figure he'd find a way to make it work.


    The glory days in Chicago are long gone, and Patrick Kane is the only productive core member of the Cup-winning teams left. Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford are out of the league, Duncan Keith is playing in Edmonton, and Jonathon Toews isn’t playing up to the level fans have grown accustomed to after missing all of last season with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome.


    The Blackhawks were hoping to be a team that contended for a playoff position after adding key veterans Tyler Johnson, Seth Jones, and Fleury. But it would appear that Chicago is once again going to be on the outside looking in this postseason.


    Guerin has been no stranger to bringing in players that he has worked with in the past to keep the Wild competitive since taking over last year. Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, and Ian Cole are a few notable players from Guerin’s past who have contributed to the Wild’s recent success. Fleury could be another critical addition to sustaining their momentum into the postseason.


    After winning the Vezina trophy last season and recording his 500th NHL victory just a few days ago, it is clear that Fleury, 37, has plenty left in the tank to contribute for a contender. There are few ways to end a storied career than going out on top. Fleury's best chance of doing that might just be reuniting with Guerin to pursue their fourth Stanley Cup.

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