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Penguins intend to hold on to Marc-Andre Fleury

Goaltender could be essential piece in Stanley Cup run, Pittsburgh GM says

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins would like to keep goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, general manager Jim Rutherford said Thursday.

Over the past two months, Fleury primarily has backed up Matt Murray, who is 22-7-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 34 games (32 starts). With the emergence of Murray, trade speculation surrounding Fleury, Pittsburgh's goalie for the past decade, has heightened.

The NHL Trade Deadline is 3 p.m. ET on March 1.

Despite Fleury's relegation to the Penguins bench, Rutherford said he remains a valuable asset who could be necessary in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: WPG@PIT: Fleury robs Scheifele with a great kick save

"I'm going to say what I've said all along. I'd prefer to keep him," Rutherford said. "We play a lot of games in March. You don't know when players are going to get hurt. He's handled the situation very well. 

"I'm going to have some communication with him in between now and the [deadline] and see exactly where he sits and how he feels. That will play a part in the final decision. But I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself because he very well could be a part of our team going down the stretch."

Trade talks regarding Fleury and Murray began during the offseason after Murray won 15 of 21 playoff starts to help the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Murray, 22, replaced Fleury, 32, as the starting goalie after Fleury sustained his second concussion in four months against the Nashville Predators on March 31.

Before that, Fleury was enjoying possibly the best regular season of his NHL career. He was 35-17-6 with a career-low 2.29 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 58 starts.

Fleury started once in the 2016 playoffs but allowed four goals on 25 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Murray started the final eight games of the playoffs, averaging 2.86 goals against during that stretch.

After initially splitting time with Murray earlier this season, Fleury has become Pittsburgh's de facto backup. He is 2-0-1 in three starts since Jan. 14 and 15-7-5 with a 3.16 GAA and .906 save percentage this season.

Video: WPG@PIT: Fleury denies Ehlers on breakaway in OT

Rutherford said he understands the situation is unfavorable for Fleury, but complimented how he has handled the decreased on-ice role.

"It doesn't work out ideally for both goalies because they both want to play," Rutherford said. "When one goalie was hurt and the other one was playing, they played extremely well. When you have a No. 1 goalie sitting as long as Marc has, there's a frustration level, so it doesn't work ideally for those guys. 

"In the long run, certainly if we get another injury, [keeping Fleury would] be the right thing to do. With playing a lot of games, it's always good to have depth at that position."

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