When Fleury was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, he became the third goalie to be chosen first, joining Michel Plasse (Montreal Canadiens, 1968) and Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders, 2000).
What's followed is a decorated NHL career. Fleury became the third goalie in NHL history to win 500 games by making 29 saves for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2-0 victory at the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 9, 2021, also his 69th NHL shutout.
Fleury lived up to the promise as an anchor for the Penguins' run of success that resulted in three Stanley Cup Final appearances and two championships. With ultra-quick reflexes and lateral mobility, Fleury assumed the No. 1 role during the 2005-06 season.
Fleury already had a history of success, helping Canada finish second at the 2003 and 2004 at the IIHF World Junior Championship, and earning top goaltender and tournament most valuable player honors in 2003. He was also named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Defensive Player of the Year and the top prospect in the QMJHL with Cape Breton in 2003.
He made his NHL debut at 18 on Oct. 10, 2003, with a 46-save performance in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, got his first NHL win Oct. 18, 2003, against the Detroit Red Wings, and had his first career shutout in a 1-0 victory against the Blackhawks on Oct. 30, 2003 -- all of which helped him earn Rookie of the Month honors for October. But after 21 games, Fleury was sent back to Cape Breton for the rest of the season.
By the time Fleury assumed the top job with the Penguins a month into the 2005-06 season, Pittsburgh had started to emerge as one of the top teams in the League. After leading the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2006-07, Fleury took them to the Stanley Cup Final the following season, posting a 1.97 goals-against average, three shutouts and .933 save percentage in 20 playoff games before Pittsburgh lost in six games to the Detroit Red Wings.
In 2008-09, Fleury helped the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup Final, helping them rally from down 3-2 against the Red Wings by allowing a total of two goals in the final two games to help clinch the title.
The Penguins won the Stanley Cup again in the 2015-16 season but Fleury, diagnosed with his second concussion of the season April 1, did not play again in the regular season and saw action in two playoff games.
Fleury played 38 regular-season games in 2016-17 and was set to back up second-year goalie Matt Murray in the playoffs until Murray was injured in warmups prior to the opening game April 12. Fleury stepped in and helped the Penguins defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round and the Washington Capitals in the second round, including a shutout in Game 7, before being replaced by Murray in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators. Murray played the remainder of the playoffs and the Penguins won a second straight championship.
The Vegas Golden Knights selected Fleury in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, and he had at that time the best statistical season of his NHL career (29-13-4, 2.24 GAA, .927 save percentage), including his 400th career victory when he defeated the Philadelphia Flyers on March 12, 2018. He became the face of the franchise, helped Vegas set numerous League records for first-year teams and finish first in the Pacific Division.
In the playoffs, Fleury went 12-3 in the first three rounds, helping Vegas become the first expansion team since the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues to advance to the Cup Final before losing to the Washington Capitals in five games.
Fleury won 35 games with a 2.51 GAA in 2018-19 and had 27 wins, including the 450th of his NHL career on Nov. 20, 2019, when he made a sprawling glove save late in the third period to preserve a one-goal lead in a game the Golden Knights won 4-2.
At age 36 in 2020-21, Fleury won the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL for the first time. Remarkably, it was the first time he even had been a finalist for the award. He went 26-10-0 in 36 games, and his 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage were the best of his 17-season NHL career.
He also won his 490th game on May 5, making 26 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild to move past Roberto Luongo for third in NHL history.
However, on July 27, Fleury was traded to the Blackhawks for forward prospect Mikael Hakkarainen. He was traded to the Minnesota Wild on March 21, 2022 for a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, went 9-2-0 with a 2.74 GAA and .910 save percentage in 11 starts after the trade, and signed a two-year, $7 million contract to remain with the Wild on July 7.
Fleury made 28 saves in a 1-0 win against the Seattle Kraken on Nov. 11, 2022. It was his first shutout with the Wild and the Kraken were the 28th franchise he blanked to pass Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Tomas Vokoun for the most in NHL history.
NOTES & TRANSACTIONS
- QMJHL Second All-Star Team (2003)
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (2011, 2015, 2018, 2019)
- NHL Second All-Star Team (2021)
- Claimed by Vegas from Pittsburgh in Expansion Draft, June 21, 2017.
- Traded to Chicago by Vegas for Mikael Hakkarainen, July 27, 2021.
- Traded to Minnesota by Chicago for a 2nd-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, March 21, 2022.