The Flower is firmly planted in Pittsburgh.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury signed a seven-year contract on Thursday to ensure his place between the Penguins’ pipes.
“Pittsburgh is where I want to be. That was the first goal when I talked to my agent about signing this contract,” Fleury said via conference call. “I told him I loved this city and the organization and the guys on the team. Sid signed a long deal here and so did Malkin. If I stay around, we should be in pretty good shape.”
Penguins General Manager Ray Shero was happy to lock up another piece of the team’s core to a long-team deal.
“I was very happy for him. He made it clear to us this is the place he wanted to be for a long period of time,” he said. “At 23 years old, I think he is the best young goaltender in the game, so signing him to a seven-year contract is a great thing for him, but it’s going to be beneficial for the team as well. It’s difficult to get good goaltending in the league and I think we have one of the better ones here that’s going to get better as he goes along. We are really happy.”
Fleury is yet another young Penguins player who took less money to stay in Pittsburgh – joining Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Whitney and Brooks Orpik.
“Everybody is different. But, for myself, I didn’t want to go out there and try to fight for a deal to get more. This is a lot and I am really happy with it,” he said.
Shero was thrilled Fleury wanted to follow those players’ lead.
“It says a lot for Marc-Andre. He’s another guy who has bought in and wanted to stay here,” he said. “He’s another guy who could have gone to arbitration and got a one-year deal and then maybe an offer sheet next year and go to free agency and go for the highest money if he could.”
Fleury, 23, posted a 19-10-2 record, along with a 2.33 goals-against-average and .921 save percentage which tied for fourth in the NHL. Fleury won four straight games from Nov. 24-Dec. 5 before suffering an ankle injury that forced him to miss 35 games. He registered a 10-2-1 record in 14 games following his return from the injury, including a 1.53 goals-against average, a .947 save percentage and two shutouts. Fleury has won 10-straight starts on home ice during the regular season dating back to Nov. 24.
The first pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Fleury won his first seven playoff starts and 11 of the first 12 games, leading the team to the Stanley Cup Final. He recorded three shutouts to become the first Penguins goaltender to earn three shutouts in a single playoff season. Fleury tied for first in the playoffs with 14 victories, while finishing second in the NHL during the postseason with a 1.97 GAA and .933 save percentage.