Keith Jones said he believes the top priority for the Pittsburgh Penguins is to acquire a No. 1 goalie to help them compete for the Stanley Cup this season.
The “NHL on NBC” analyst, a former teammate of new Penguins general manager Ron Hextall with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1998-99, told co-hosts Dan Rosen and Shawn P. Roarke that he thinks it could be Marc-Andre Fleury, the Vegas Golden Knights goalie who played his first 13 NHL seasons for Pittsburgh, winning the Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017.
“You hear a name like Marc-Andre Fleury out there and you start to think, ‘Boy that would make things really interesting in Pittsburgh if they could scoop up and get him to return to the fold so to speak,'” Jones said. “I think that’s a legitimate option, though, and I think that’s one area, obviously Ron being a former goaltender, that he should have a pretty good feel for who could come in and give them some immediate relief and not mess them up with the salary cap. That’ll be the biggest challenge.”
Fleury’s future with the Golden Knights was in doubt after they signed Robin Lehner to a five-year, $25 million contract ($5 million average annual value) Oct. 3, but general manager Kelly McCrimmon said Oct. 14 that the 36-year-old would not be traded. He has two seasons remaining on a three-year, $21 million contract ($7 million AAV) he signed with Vegas on July 13, 2018.
The Penguins traded Matt Murray, who won the Cup as their starter in 2016 and 2017, to the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 7, leaving Tristan Jarry as their new No. 1 goalie and Casey DeSmith as his backup.
Jarry is 2-4-1 with a 3.95 goals-against average and an .857 save percentage in seven games this season. DeSmith is 3-1-0 with a 2.85 GAA and an .882 save percentage in five games (four starts).
Fleury is 5-0-0 with a 1.80 GAA, a .920 save percentage and one shutout in five games. His 62 shutouts are second among active NHL goalies behind Henrik Lundqvist of the Washington Capitals (64).
“I think they’re going to have to get creative to fix that problem, at least temporarily,” Jones said.
Jones also talked about coach John Tortorella’s decision to bench forward Patrik Laine and the drama with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the struggles of the Nashville Predators, and the strong start to the season for Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk.
Rosen and Roarke also debated the merits of how the Toronto Maple Leafs have played in the first quarter of the season and if it means they’re for real and discussed the struggles of New York Rangers forwards Mika Zibanejad and Alexis Lafreniere.
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