Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury informed the Chicago Blackhawks he's planning to play the 2021-22 season after taking time to evaluate his NHL future following a trade from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Fleury confirmed his intention to play in a video message to Blackhawks fans:
Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff Hockey was among those to first report the news Sunday.
Fleury became just the seventh goalie in history traded within a year of winning the Vezina Trophy, which honors the NHL's best player at the position.
The 36-year-old Canadian posted a 26-10-0 record with a microscopic 1.98 goals-against average and .928 save percentage across 36 appearances for the Golden Knights during the 2020-21 campaign.
He joined Vegas in the team's 2017 expansion draft and was a major reason for the franchise's immediate success, highlighted by reaching the Stanley Cup Final in its debut season.
Fleury's departure was mostly a salary-cap move, as the Golden Knights were able to create $7 million in cap space by sending him to Chicago for prospect Mikael Hakkarainen.
Allan Walsh, the netminder's agent, expressed frustration his client wasn't informed about the deal before it went public last week and noted Fleury would take time to think about his future:
The five-time All-Star selection started his career with 13 years as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who selected him with the first overall pick in the 2003 draft. He won three Stanley Cup championships with the Pens.
Fleury will now be penciled in as the Hawks' No. 1 goalie to open the 2021-22 season. Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia will compete for the backup role.
The trio of Lankinen, Subban and Delia ranked tied for 18th with a combined .906 save percentage last season, so Fleury should represent a substantial upgrade between the pipes.