It wasn’t long ago that everyone was ready to throw in the towel after, All-Star goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury was diagnosed with a concussion. No one expected the Penguins to make it deep in the playoffs riding the back of rookie goalie Matt Murray. At least that was the case until the team began to display some of the most impressive defensive play supporting the man between the pipes.
But even though the Penguins had as much success as they had with a 21 (now 22) year old rookie, that doesn’t mean the right move is to close the book on the future Hall-of-fame goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Any team would be more than happy having two legit starting goaltenders in their line-up on a nightly basis. For instance look at teams like Dallas (Lehtonen & Niemi), Anaheim (Gibson & Andersen) and Tampa Bay (Bishop & Vasilevskiy)
The biggest difference between the Penguins and the teams listed above are how much it will cost Pittsburgh to have their tandem.
Their total combined salary for 16/17 is only $6.325 million!
Compare that to what Dallas pays their goalies ($10.4 million) and what Tampa Bay paid ($7.425 million).
Lets say the salary cap stays at $71.4 million for the 2016/2017 season. No team would have an opportunity to have as much value in net as the Pens do at such a low-cost. It would be something that could set the Penguins apart from all of the other 29 teams.
While Matt Murray’s regular season play stats in the NHL are in short supply, the limited marks are just as strong as they were in the Playoffs. Add that to the play of Marc-Andre Fleury who was quite possibly the teams MVP through the season and you have two superb options in net.
It’s easy to jump on the Murray bandwagon right now. He just helped the team win a Stanley Cup and showed 3-4 VERY strong games in the playoffs. But let us not forget that early playoff success doesn’t always make a goalie great long-term.
Cam Ward – Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2005/06 he has struggled to help lead his team to the playoffs more than once. Just like Matt Murray he was a rookie goalie who tied Patrick Roy (One of the greatest goalies to ever play) with 15 wins in the post-season. There is no doubt that Ward has been a solid goalie, but hasn’t shown any signs of a hall of fame career since that unforgettable playoff run. Something you can bet Jim Rutherford doesn’t forget.
Jim Carey – Slightly a different situation but he was a goalie who made a BIG impact nearly immediately in the NHL.Winning his first seven games having a strong first and second season before he began to drop off drastically.
Rick DiPietro – Selected first overall in the 200 NHL Entry Draft, Rick was touted to be one of the best to play between the pipes. Whether due to his unfortunate injury issues or maybe he just wasn’t as good as he was thought to be. But the Islanders still havent recovered from the DiPietro era.
Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, Dominik Hasek was drafted 199th over all in 1983 and went on to be one of the most famous names in the sport winning two stanley cups and 6 Vezina trophies!
Fleury is STILL the #1 guy
When the 2016/17 season opens in October many fans may be shocked to see Marc-Andre as the #1 guy. 653 games played, 357 wins, 2 Stanley Cups a Gold Medal and 2x All-Star Fleury is having a Hall of Fame career. Why would anyone want to move on from someone like that?
There seems to be a handful of fans who believe Murray is ready for the job or is better suited. Maybe Murray will be better than him in the long run, maybe he wont. But Fleury hasn’t done anything to deem him to lose his starting position. Having Fleury around to help mentor and teach Murray will go a long way.
Ice-time will probably be split in Fleury’s favor throughout the season but could become more even depending on the play of either goalie.
Let us also not forget that without Fleury playing as strong as he did early in the season the Penguins may have not made the playoffs and Matt Murray would still be a prospect people are excited about.
The point here is that the Penguins have an amazing opportunity where they could have not one, but TWO quality goaltenders on their team for at least one more season. And depending on how the team utilizes both of them, could be for a few more seasons than that.
Congratulations to the Penguins on their Amazing Stanley Cup Victory!
Thanks For Reading!