NHL Trade Rumors: Latest on Marc-Andre Fleury Deal, Darcy Kuemper and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2021

NHL Trade Rumors: Latest on Marc-Andre Fleury Deal, Darcy Kuemper and More

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    NHL free agency kicked off on Wednesday afternoon, and the open market was preceded by a blockbuster move. The Vegas Golden Knights traded standout goalie and five-time All-Star Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks in a deal that shocked even the player himself.

    "While Marc-Andre Fleury still hasn’t heard from anybody with the Vegas Golden Knights, he has apparently been traded to Chicago," Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted. "Marc-Andre will be taking time to discuss his situation with his family and seriously evaluate his hockey future at this time."

    Fleury's move to Chicago was a surprising way to unofficially open the trade market—and his situation may not be finalized. Now that free agency is officially open, more deals could be in the works. Here, we'll examine the latest buzz surrounding the NHL trade market at the start of free agency.

Fleury Does Not Want to Play in Chicago

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    While Fleury has been dealt to Chicago, he may not end up playing there. According to Rob Rossi, Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus of The Athletic, Fleury has no interest in playing for the Blackhawks:

    "A source close to Fleury described him as 'totally shocked.' Another source said Fleury 'doesn’t want to play there,' though stressing that the sentiment had nothing to do with the Blackhawks organization but rather Fleury not wanting to uproot his family for an unfamiliar locale. The source added that though Fleury has long suspected Vegas upper management—and especially coach Peter DeBoer—did not view him as 'their guy,' Fleury was confident he would at least finish out his current contract with the Golden Knights."

    The idea that Fleury doesn't want to be in an unfamiliar situation opens up the idea that another trade—to the Pittsburgh Penguins—could be a possibility. Fleury began his career in Pittsburgh and spent more than a decade with the Penguins organization. Speculation on a possible reunion has already begun.

    "Forget the sentimental, prodigal-goalie skating back to his home arena angle," Tim Benz of TribLive.com wrote. "Even if Fleury had zero connection to the city, the Penguins need a veteran who can step in and immediately replace Tristan Jarry as the top starting option in net."

    While there's no guarantee that the Penguins will actually pursue Fleury, the notion does make sense, and it's apparent that the goalie isn't going to be content to make Chicago his last NHL stop.

Penguins Are in the Goalie Market

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    Even if Fleury isn't the target, the Penguins appear to be in the market for a goalie. While the organization isn't necessarily looking to make a splash on the open market, they would like to add another premier player to their goaltending rotation.

    From Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now:

    "The Pittsburgh Penguins aren't major players on the NHL trade market. They poked around on a high-priced goalie with impeccable credentials, who also hails from Pittsburgh (John Gibson), but a Penguins team source said there was no traction as of Friday afternoon. ... The Penguins' source further confirmed what PHN has reported for several weeks. GM Ron Hextall has added a 1B type goalie to the Penguins trade board."

    Kingerski mentions both John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks and Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes as examples of a potential trade target—though he notes that Kuemper isn't officially a trade target.

    "We can't report the Penguins are in on Kuemper," Kingerski wrote. "... we can confidently say the Penguins are exploring options 'like' him."

    This meshes with the idea that Pittsburgh could look for a Fleury reunion. Even if the Penguins don't go that route, they could look to deal for a new goaltender in the coming days.

Maple Leafs, Hurricanes Among Teams in on Kuemper

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    While the Penguins may not have officially identified Kuemper as a trade target, a couple of teams reportedly have. According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun (h/t NHL Watcher), the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes are interested in the 31-year-old goalkeeper.

    "Both the Leafs and Hurricanes have shown trade interest in Darcy Kuemper...In the meantime Carolina is also trying to re-sign UFA goalie Jonathan Bernier, whose rights they acquired last week," LeBrun said on TSN.

    According to LeBrun, Arizona has ramped up trade talks involving Kuemper and has multiple suitors.

    "Trade talks have intensified," LeBrun wrote. "Ideally, if you're Arizona you want to move a guy who’s signed for an asset before free agency opens because some of the opportunities will go out the window. Colorado, Edmonton, Toronto, Carolina, Philadelphia are among the teams that have been in touch with Arizona."

    With multiple potential trade partners on the table, the Coyotes should be able to leverage a strong return for Kuemper. It would be a mild surprise at this point if he isn't dealt in the coming days.