One of the better possibilities for a feel-good story from NHL free agency appears to have just evaporated before our eyes.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have extended back-up netminder Casey DeSmith, presumably ending the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury returning to the organization after five seasons to platoon with starter Tristan Jarry.
Welcome back, Casey!
The Penguins have agreed to terms with DeSmith on a two-year contract.
The contract runs through the 2023.24 season and carries an AAV of $1.8 million. https://t.co/vRuNfDlawV
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 5, 2022
DeSmith's deal is for two seasons, and worth $3.6 million. The deal marks a sizeable raise for one of the more reliable backup netminders from last season. DeSmith went 11-6-5 with a .914 save percentage in 26 appearances for the Penguins.
Jarry is in the final season of a deal that pays him $3.5 million annually.
Fleury remains one of the most intriguing options set to hit the open market on July 13. He is both as capable and as accomplished as any other netminder from a 2022 class that also includes Jack Campbell, Darcy Kuemper and Ville Husso.
Fleury, 37, could conceivably attract the highest average annual value on a free-agent deal, or he can lean on his impressive career earnings to choose the best possible destination from either a lifestyle or competitive standpoint.
For teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers or even the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, Fleury could wind up being an incredibly cost-effective add, in addition to potentially being the most talented netminder set to switch sweaters.
It's also possible that Fleury remains with the Minnesota Wild after accepting a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks ahead of the deadline last season.
Fleury is just two seasons removed from winning the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder for the very first time. He didn't have a particularly strong return season split between the Blackhawks and Wild after the Vegas Golden Knights shipped him away following his trophy-worthy season, sporting an overall .908 save rate and total 2.05 goals saved above average in 56 appearances.
Fleury spent 13 seasons in Pittsburgh and won three Stanley Cups with the organization before accepting a move to Vegas as part of the Golden Knights' expansion draft.
He was the former first-overall selection of the franchise, arriving four years prior to Sidney Crosby.
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