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Rutherford: Don't presume Fleury is out

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens re-signed goaltender Matt Murray to a three-year contract extension on Thursday. That means the team has both Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury under contract for the following three seasons, and one additional for Murray. 

The Pens organization is extremely fortunate to have two Stanley Cup-winning No. 1 goaltenders on the roster. It's a luxury no other team in the NHL has.

But the looming issue on everyone's mind is the upcoming expansion draft and Fleury's future with the organization.

"The focus seems to be on what happens with Marc-Andre," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "But let's let this play itself out first. Let's not just presume that Marc is automatically out."

The expansion Las Vegas franchise will begin play in the 2017-18 season. The Pens can only protect one goaltender during the expansion draft, so many pundits have speculated that the team would opt to save Murray because he is younger (22 years old) with a full career ahead of him and expose Fleury, 31.

However, the contract extension for Murray had nothing to do with Fleury's future.

"It has nothing to do with that," Rutherford said. "Our focus this year is winning. We'll deal with the expansion draft at the appropriate time. This signing of Matt doesn't go hand-in-hand with any of that." 

If the Pens hold on to Fleury and then lose him in the expansion draft they would receive no compensation. So, as the logic follows, the Pens should trade Fleury before that could happen.

But that is assuming Las Vegas selects Fleury and not another Pens player, or other possible scenarios where the team opts to not take Fleury, including making another deal with the expansion team.

Pittsburgh has stated on several occasions that they would prefer to keep both netminders on the team.

"(Fleury's) been the franchise goalie here," Rutherford said. "He is a terrific person. He is a terrific player. I think that assumption is getting ahead of ourselves. Let's let the two guys play it out. We'll see where that goes."

 

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