Marc-Andre Fleury signs one-year extension with Wild

Marc-Andre Fleury started this season, his 20th in the NHL, not knowing whether it would be his last. As a result, every city the Wild visited this season brought questions about whether the three-time Stanley Cup champion had made his decision.

Fleury won’t make that mistake again.

After signing a one-year extension with Minnesota worth $2.5 million, Fleury left himself zero wiggle room.

“I’m not doing this again,” he said. “No. This is it.”

The 2023-24 season was disappointing everyone involved with the Wild, who started terribly, said goodbye to head coach Dean Evason in November and missed the postseason for just the second time in 12 years. That ended a 17-year playoff streak for Fleury, who will start the Wild’s season finale against Seattle on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

Fleury’s 2.98 goals-against average is his second-highest since he began playing regularly in 2007-08, and his .895 saves percentage is the lowest of his career. But Fleury, 39, had more than his share of magnificent moments this season, too, including a pair of shutouts and impressive victories over top teams such as the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

On Dec. 31, Fleury joined Patrick Roy, Roberto Luongo and wins leader Martin Brodeur (691) as the only NHL goaltenders to play 1,000 career games. On Jan. 15, he shut out the New York Islanders, 5-0, to move past Roy and into second place on the NHL career wins list (now 561 and counting).

Ultimately, Fleury decided he would have regretted retiring now.

“I think that was one thing,” he said. “I was so unsure sometimes what to do. I think that was a good indication it wasn’t time. I wasn’t ready to just call it quits. I think that was something I took in mind.

“My wife told me, ‘If you stop now, it ain’t coming back,’ right? ‘That’s it. Make sure you’re done with it.’ ”

Fleury said he didn’t want to play anywhere else, and Wild general manager Bill Guerin was happy to oblige. “He’s played so well for us this season (that) it’s too soon for him to retire,” he said. “That’s my personal view.”

The Wild will save $1 million on the $3.5 million salary Fleury is playing on this year, and now appear to have a surfeit of quality goaltending. Fleury and Filip Gustavsson (45 appearances) split chores almost evenly this season, and rookie Jesper Wallstedt got his first NHL look, going 2-1 in three starts that included a 7-0 loss at Western Conference leader Dallas on Jan. 10.

In a pair of starts on a five-game road April 6-15, Wallstedt was 2-0 with a 1.01 GAA and .962 save percentage against Chicago and San Jose.

“It puts us in a position of strength,” Guerin said. “We’ve got three good goalies in the organization again.”

Guerin said he is comfortable with using the Gustavsson/Fleury tandem again next season and, if necessary, keeping top prospect Wallstedt, 21, in Iowa for another year, the last on a rookie contract paying him $925,000 in the NHL.

Certainly re-signing Fleury gives Guerin another option to acquire some scoring, something the Wild needed badly this season. Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson and Matt Boldy have accounted for 42 percent of all the Wild’s goals this season, and Minnesota will be saddled with $14.7 million in dead cap space again next season.

That deficit forced Guerin to use long-term injured reserve to field a full roster from the get-go, essentially killing the GM’s ability to bolster his lineup. He made two outside additions of import, trading a seventh-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for veteran defenseman Zack Bogosian and claiming rookie blue liner Declan Chisholm off waivers.

Wallstedt, 21, is a big, promising prospect, and Gustavsson, 25, was the NHL’s second-best goaltender statistically in 2022-23, earning him a three-year, $11.25 million contract extension that went into effect this season.

Guerin said having Wallstedt play a third season at Iowa is on the table, although that would mean playing his entire rookie contract primarily in the American Hockey League.

“I haven’t made decisions on anything moving forward,” Guerin said. “When you have an opportunity to keep a Marc-Andre Fleury in your organization, and keep him playing, you do it. We’ll figure the other stuff out.”

Fleury will turn 40 on Nov. 28, and is set on making 2024-25 his last stop before the place waiting for him in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“I am,” he said. “A lot of guys, guys I know, have said, ‘Play as long as you can. If you stop too early, you regret it.’ I’m very lucky to have the support that the Wild are giving me to stick around for one more.”


Wild head coach John Hynes said Mats Zuccarello, who has missed the past three games while attending to a personal matter, will be back in the lineup for Thursday’s season finale.

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