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Wild hope Marc-Andre Fleury re-signing won’t create another tense situation with Cam Talbot



The Athletic


MONTREAL — It was an effective day for the Wild on Thursday, as they breathed two quality forwards into the pipeline on Day 1 of the NHL Draft and addressed the immediate future by re-signing the future Hall of Famer. the Marc-André Fleury fame for what they anticipate will be a Fleury-Cam Talbot tandem.

However, Wild general manager Bill Guerin plans to call Talbot on Friday to make sure Talbot understands his reason for bringing Fleury back and is comfortable with the possibility of splitting games next season, as both goalies did it last season.

Talbot, the Wild’s undisputed No. He wasn’t happy he played second fiddle to Fleury in the playoffs after going 13-0-3 in his last 16 regular season games. Additionally, one of Talbot’s agents, George Bazos, could be seen expressing his dismay at Guerin in a Bell Center hallway during Thursday night’s first round, shortly after the $7 million contract was announced. Fleury dollars over two years.

“I had some communications with him,” Guerin said of Talbot. “Cam has been nothing but supportive and spectacular through it all. He’s a pro. You can’t take guys like Cam Talbot for granted and assume he’ll be fine and all that stuff just because let him say it. We want to make sure he’s good.

Yet that is the problem.

While a source close to Talbot says he keeps saying he’s okay with the situation, it’s clear there were hurt feelings about the way he was treated during the playoffs when he wasn’t tabbed for a start until the team faced a must play. 6 against the St. Louis Blues.

Talbot is expected to speak to his agents on Friday, and there’s a chance Guerin is on that call. At a minimum, Guerin plans a separate call. While the source said it could come to a head, Guerin thinks it’s a luxury to return with what he believes to be one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL, and it’s difficult to buy that he would trade Talbot this offseason even if Talbot would welcome such a move. Publicly, Talbot said after the season that he wanted to come back and not be traded.

The Wild just traded an 85-point guy to Kevin Fiala and don’t have the money to replace him on the outside. So if they want to be on par or better than their 2021-22 season by 113 points, they’ll need significantly better special teams and two quality goalies to win games behind a team that also needs to be more stingy defensively. .

Guerin said he will participate in Friday’s call anticipating that Talbot will be “well.”

“To have Marc-André Fleury and Cam Talbot as doubles, I think we have one of the best tandems in the league,” Guerin said. “Every night we’re going to put a fantastic goalie in front of the net. I think that’s really important.

During a telephone interview with Athleticism On Thursday, Fleury said that while he could have waited until Wednesday to make his decision on whether to test free agency, he felt it was incumbent on him to let Guerin know before the draft if he was coming back.

There are different pressure points every offseason, and Fleury, 37, has been around long enough to know he owed it to Guerin not to handcuff him before entering free agency. The draft usually takes place when off-season trades are made, and with the No. 2 goalie market ultra-thin this summer, Fleury knew Guerin might have had to replace him via a trade on Thursday.

Guerin praised Fleury and agent Allan Walsh for the respect they showed in making their decision Thursday.

In 11 regular season starts with the Wild, Fleury went 9-2 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. He started the first five games of a first-round playoff loss to the Blues and went 2-3 with a 3.04 GAA and .906 save percentage.

Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, wants to win, and he thinks the Wild can do it even without the production Fiala brings. Fleury ranks third all-time with 520 regular season wins (in 939 games) and is tied for third with 92 playoff wins. In 18 seasons, he has a career average of 2.57, a save percentage of .913 and 71 shutouts. He is 92-73 in 16 playoffs with a 2.54 GAA, .912 save percentage and three Stanley Cup rings.

“It’s a close-knit team, and the chemistry, the work ethic, is great,” Fleury said. Athleticism Thursday night. “All together as a team, we’re going to find a way to win a lot of games and help each other along the way.”

Fleury has a great relationship with Guerin, his 2009 Stanley Cup-winning teammate with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And during a meeting Thursday morning at his home, 45 minutes from Montreal, Fleury kept repeating how much he loved his Wild teammates. He said there was no ego in their room. Guerin believes it was those teammates and the culture instilled there that pushed this over the finish line and kept Fleury from considering several options he surely would have had.

Fleury received a full no-move clause. The contract works for both the Wild and Fleury. Because his salary is $3.5 million each of two seasons, if Fleury decides to hang up his goalie pads after this next season, the Wild won’t be hit by a $3.5 million cap. in 2023-24 that would be the norm for 35-year-old or more players signing multi-year contracts.

If Talbot were to be traded this summer, it would free up $3.67 million in valuable cap space for a Wild team that is down to just $1.4 million. But Guerin doesn’t seem inclined to do so despite Talbot, 35, entering the final year of a three-year contract. He is 51-20-9 with a 2.71 GAA and .913 save percentage in two seasons with the Wild.

“Both are a bit older, but they are both maintaining their top form,” Guerin said. “So I’m not concerned about years or longevity or health or anything like that with these two guys. They are two professionals who take care of themselves.

(Photo by Cam Talbot: Matt Krohn/USA Today)