Marc-Andre Fleury is returning to the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild confirmed minutes prior to the start of the NHL draft on Thursday that they have retained arguably the top potential free-agent netminder.
Fleury will continue to platoon with Cam Talbot on a two-year deal worth $7 million.
Imagine not having MAF on your squad…couldn’t be us 😉#mnwild NEWS: The flower is back! 🌸 🌸 🌸
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) July 7, 2022
Fleury was traded to the Wild from the Chicago Blackhawks ahead of the NHL trade deadline last season. He began the season in Chicago after the Vegas Golden Knights jettisoned him last summer in an effort to clear salary cap space.
Fleury didn't have a particularly strong season split between the Blackhawks and Wild, but did turn things around a bit behind the Wild's superior team structure, winning nine of his 11 starts.
His numbers did drop dramatically from his first and only Vezina Trophy-winning season in Vegas the season prior when he sported a .928 save percentage and had six shutouts in 36 appearances.
Fleury was believed to be considered an option from virtually every team desperately scouring the market for goaltending help both in the short and long term.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals were recently named as teams in the hunt with the Wild, while talks over a potential reunion with the Pittsburgh Penguins had surfaced. That option, it seemed, was eliminated when the Penguins re-signed Casey DeSmith earlier this week.
While still one of the league's most talented teams, it's unlikely the Wild will take a major step forward this season with the cap penalties tied to the buyouts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise set to take effect. But in being able to re-sign Fleury to secure the tandem with Talbot, the Wild should preserve a high level of goaltending with one of the more competitive and talented depth charts league-wide.
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