The Vegas Golden Knights traded goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for center prospect Mikael Hakkarainen in a move that creates $7 million in salary-cap space.
According to The Athletic's Rob Rossi, Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus, Fleury was "totally shocked" by the trade and "doesn't want to play" for the Blackhawks. Fleury reportedly did not believe Vegas viewed him as "their guy," though he had expected to finish out his contract with the team.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goaltender is scheduled to enter the final season of a three-year, $21 million contract.
Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh, said the 36-year-old netminder hadn't been immediately informed of the trade by Vegas and would "seriously evaluate his hockey future" before deciding whether to join the Hawks or retire:
Fleury joined the Golden Knights as part of their initial roster in the 2017 expansion draft. He's compiled a 117-60-14 record with a 2.41 goals against average and .917 save percentage across 192 regular-season appearances for the club.
The 2003 first overall pick won three Stanley Cup titles as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins before joining Vegas. He helped lead the expansion franchise to the Stanley Cup Final in its debut season, posting a .927 save percentage in 20 games during the 2018 playoffs.
He would take over as Chicago's unquestioned No. 1 goalie if he opts to continue his career.
Meanwhile, the trade to generate financial flexibility suggests the Golden Knights may be setting the stage for a marquee offseason addition via trade or free agency.
Vegas has been linked to a potential blockbuster deal for disgruntled Buffalo Sabres star center Jack Eichel, who carries a $10 million cap hit. The team has $12.2 million in cap space after Tuesday's trade, per CapFriendly.
The Golden Knights have one of the NHL's most complete rosters, but a true No. 1 center is missing. Eichel would fill that void and bolster the team's championship hopes assuming he's recovered from a neck injury that limited him to 21 games last season.
While there's a shroud of uncertainty about Vegas' next move, one thing did become clear with Tuesday's trade: Robin Lehner will now be the full-time starter between the pipes.