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While veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is leaving the door open to a return with the Minnesota Wild next season, there is a sense that the 37-year-old pending unrestricted free agent could test the market this summer.
Fleury would like to continue his NHL career and play another season. His three-year, $21-million contract comes to an end this offseason and this could be the first time in his career that he reaches free agency.
While the veteran netminder might want to return to Minnesota, the Wild also face some uncertainty with their salary cap situation, with just $8.18 million of cap space available next season with some free agents to lock up, including 85-point forward Kevin Fiala. Other teams could get in the mix and the beloved goalie, known league-wide as "Flower", revealed in an interview with RDS at his annual golf tournament in his hometown of Sorel on Friday that he would consider signing with the Montreal Canadiens if there is a chance that Carey Price cannot return.
"It could be an option, but it isn't just yet," Fleury said in French. "Carey [Price] finished the season and I hope he'll be okay to return next season."
The Canadiens’ offseason remains in limbo when it comes to Price’s future. The star goalie’s health and playing status are in the air; after missing most of the 2021-22 following a stint in the players’ assistance program due to substance abuse and simultaneously recovering from offseason knee surgery, he returned in the middle of April. He only played five games, including the season finale.
In the end of season press conference, Price admitted that his knee would not allow him to play a full schedule of games and he needed it to get better before making a decision on playing in 2022-23. Since his comments, there have been talks about potential retirement or the Canadiens placing him and his $10.5 million cap hit on long-term injured reserve.
If that’s the case, then Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes better pick up the phone and reach out to Fleury.
While there is an interest from the veteran goalie to return to Minnesota, where he benefits from a close relationship with former teammate and current Wild general manager Bill Guerin, it will be an enormous challenge for the Wild to sign him to a deal that earns anything close to the cap hit of $7 million that he carried in his last deal.
Fleury could also be more interested in the idea of playing for his childhood team and consequently closer to his extended family, who resides in Sorel, 90 kilometres east of Montreal.
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