The Chicago Blackhawks' 3-9-2 start has sparked speculation over when they'll start shopping their pending free agents like Marc-Andre Fleury. Meanwhile, questions over the Edmonton Oilers' goaltending have some observers linking them to the 36-year-old Blackhawks netminder.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and TSN's Chris Johnston recently pondered Fleury's trade status. While Friedman hinted at the Oilers as a potential suitor, Johnston suggested the importance of this season could prompt them to pursue the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen make up the Oilers' current goalie tandem. The oft-injured Smith, 39, has been sidelined since Oct. 19 by a lower-body injury. Koskinen has played well thus far but the 33-year-old Finn has been plagued by inconsistency in the past.
The thinking here is Fleury's record as a proven playoff performer, which includes five Stanley Cup Finals and three Cup rings, could put the Oilers over the postseason hump. However, Johnston pointed out the Oilers would have competition for Fleury's services if the Blackhawks decide to shop him.
Fleury contract, however, could be a problem. Cap Friendly indicates he carries a $7-million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list. The Oilers, meanwhile, are sitting over $5.8 million over the $81.5-million cap due to Oscar Klefbom, Josh Archibald and Alex Stalock on season-ending long-term injury reserve.
They'll have to get creative to take on Fleury's contract. They could ship some salary to the Blackhawks or ask them to retain a portion of his cap hit.
That's assuming the Oilers aren't on Fleury's no-trade list. If they are, there's no certainty he'll waive it to go to Edmonton as a playoff rental. He could prefer other destinations, like perhaps a reunion with the Pittsburgh Penguins.