What will the goaltending situation look like for the Detroit Red Wings in the 2020-21 season?
That is one of the biggest questions Red Wings’ GM Steve Yzerman will have to answer during the offseason as Jimmy Howard will reportedly be gone and Jonathan Bernier is more of a No. 2 goalie than a No. 1.
Personally, since the Red Wings are not close to contention at this point, I believe they will be better off either signing a cheap free agent or keeping everything in-house by bringing up a prospect.
But could Steve Yzerman swing a cap-related trade that would bring in multiple time All-Star goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury?
That is a hypothetical trade situation that was floated out by Max Bultman of The Athletic.
Here is what Bultman has to say about the potential trade.
The candidate: Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas
In spite of their need of a goaltender to pair with Jonathan Bernier, the rebuilding Red Wings aren’t in an ideal position to bring in a player as expensive as Fleury to fill that hole. Fleury himself should still be good enough to not be a pure cap dump, even after losing his starting job in Vegas, but his contract is likely too rich for this point in his career, too. That makes him a tough case.
But, what about copying the manner in which Vegas acquired Robin Lehner this trade deadline? In that deal, Toronto stepped in as an intermediary between Vegas and Chicago, retained some salary and cap hit, and got a fifth-round pick for its trouble. And that was for just over a month’s worth of cap space.
In a Fleury deal, with bigger money and two years at odds, Detroit would be able to command a much better sweetener for providing the same service, if Vegas finds a contender interested in taking on Fleury. Who might that contender be? That’s another question, but who it is shouldn’t ultimately change the dynamic too much (though it might help if it’s also a cap-strapped team, that really needs Detroit to retain some of Fleury’s AAV).
This would be a bit different than the Patrick Marleau cap-dump trade between Toronto and Carolina last year, and retaining salary as an intermediary probably doesn’t bring a first-round pick to Detroit. Still, in terms of both real dollars and cap dollars, this would represent a serious savings for both the team acquiring Fleury, and the Golden Knights, who could then use the space to take a run at someone to help put them over the top. There’s value in that, even if it’s not the coveted first-round pick.
Whether filling up cap space for a lesser asset is worth the hassle would be another question. And Detroit does need to be careful not to sell its cap space too cheap, since there’s only a finite amount of it. Vegas, too, may be able to retain enough of Fleury’s cap hit that the value of being an intermediary is minimized.
Either way, this would be the least-orthodox route here, but in addition to the draft pick, this avenue would come with the added bonus of not taking up a roster spot.
In all likelihood, the Red Wings will do something other than one of these specific three trades this fall. None would be easy to execute, and each would have real potential downsides. But there are principles here that can be applied to any number of potential trades during the cap crunch.
In the end, though, each requires an appetite by both the front office and ownership to spend money (or other valuable assets) in a time where cash is tight. That’s far from a given, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
But cap space might be the Red Wings’ biggest asset this offseason, and there should be no shortage of creative ways to use it.
Nation, is this a move you would like to see the Red Wings make?