Marc-Andre Fleury waiving his no movement clause for the upcoming expansion draft throws a monkey wrench into the Washington Capitals’ strategy.
The NHL expansion draft will force each team to lose one player, whether that player be a free agent or under contract. It has been a foregone conclusion the Washington Capitals will lose backup goalie Philipp Grubauer to the Vegas Golden Knights. Quite frankly, that’s probably a favorable outcome for the Caps because they will also have to expose either Nate Schmidt or John Carlson.
However, now Washington has to reconsider their strategy. And, fittingly, it’s because of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury might be the Caps’ worst enemy on the ice, but off of it, he’s a pretty darn good guy. Stats are still most important when evaluating a player, but the longtime Penguins goalie is proof intangibles might well have value.
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Fleury has decided to waive his no movement clause for the expansion draft. He had no altruistic reason to do so other than maybe to be a starter again. This could completely alter how the Golden Knights approach the expansion draft.
Let’s suppose George McPhee selects Fleury. Why he would do so with a young studly defenseman like Brian Dumoulin likely available? Who knows, but keep in mind McPhee thought trading Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta was a good idea. Regardless, if Fleury is selected, it sure won’t be so he can be the backup. It will be so he can be a stopgap starter.
Suddenly, picking Grubauer might not be the obvious choice for Vegas. The Capitals backup goalie is 25 years old and needs a new deal. Fleury has two years left on his current deal. So perhaps a younger goalie like Linus Ullmark (23) or Joonas Korpisalo (23) makes more sense than Grubauer. 27 isn’t old, but that would likely give him roughly four to five years of his prime. Meanwhile, Korpisalo and Ullmark would probably just be entering theirs.
If the Golden Knights don’t select Grubauer, that’s very bad for the Capitals. Because unless they sign one of their free agents, such as T.J. Oshie or Kevin Shattenkirk, this likely means McPhee will select Nate Schmidt. He’s precisely the kind of player Vegas should be picking – a promising young player who has shown he’s capable of handling more than what he has.
The Capitals have to consider this now. They might need to bribe the Golden Knights to not select Schmidt. Even if he might make more sense for them than Grubauer. This is the curse of being an excellent team – if you’re forced to lose a player, chances are he will be a very good one.
Fleury has done a lot of damage to the Capitals over the years. So it’s quite fitting even his (likely) departure from the Penguins will probably hurt the Caps.