The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to a four year contract extension worth $23 million. That means the deal will carry an average annual value of $5.75 million and will commence at the start of the 2015-2016 season. Otherwise, Fleury would’ve become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The Penguins netminder is 7-2-0 thus far this season, boasting a 1.89 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. He also has three shutouts.
Fleury is, believe it or not, the longest-tenured player on the current Penguins roster. He was the first pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and won a Cup in 2009. He’s the Penguins’ all-time leader in games (540), wins (295) and shutouts (31). And he’s second only to Tom Barasso in terms of playoff victories, with 52 to Barasso’s 56.
“I’m really happy,” Fleury said about the extension. “I’ve spent a lot of time [in Pittsburgh]. It’s like my home. My teammates, I have been with them for a while. The organization has been great to me all of these years. The city, the fans, I couldn’t be happier.”
The team and the player, through his agent, had been working on nailing down the contract extension for the better part of a month.
“I think it feels good for everybody,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. “When a player is in the last year of his contract, especially an important player like Marc, you wonder when you get closer to the end of the season, you wonder whether it’s not in the back of his mind, so it’s good that we got it cleared it up. We got to a point that it’s a fair deal for both sides.”
Over the course of 11 seasons, Fleury has a 295-171-46 record. He is the NHL’s win leader since the 2008-2009 season and the only active goalie to win at least 35 games in five of the last six seasons.
Fleury has also been adept at the intangibles, like in the locker room.
“He is such a key guy in the dressing room,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “We talk often about how he plays on the ice and what he has done on the ice. But in and around the guys in the room, he’s a real key chemistry guy. He’s always energetic. He always has a smile on his face. I think that’s the biggest thing. Our guys battle hard for him. They play for him.”
Of course, the elephant in the room is how Fleury performs in the post-season. Consider his 4.63 goals against average from the 2011-2012 playoffs, for instance. Or his 3.52 goals against average from 2012-2013. His less than stellar play led to early exits in the first round for the Penguins, that much is clear, and the numbers have routinely been ugly on that score. Even when he made his post-season debut for five games in 2006-2007, he posted a 3.76 goals against average and the Penguins were eliminated in the first round.
While there are certainly some impressive numbers, the bigger picture reveals a goalie of great inconsistency. That’s something the Penguins have tried to contend with for years and it looks like they’ll be contending with it for at least four more.