Marc-Andre Fleury or Cam Talbot? Perhaps Wild could afford both goaltenders
It sounds like Fleury would be open to coming back to Minnesota and Talbot is already under contract for next season.
ST. PAUL -- After rotating between Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot in net during the final month of the NHL regular season, then bowing out in the first round of the playoffs, the Minnesota Wild are now in the unenviable position of having to pick one of their two talented goaltenders to roll with moving forward.
Or are they?
As a pending free agent, Fleury indicated Monday that he would “definitely” consider re-signing with the Wild if general manager Bill Guerin showed interest this offseason. Meanwhile, Talbot is already under contract next season, and he made it clear that he expects to be back.
With roughly $8 million in cap space to work with this offseason — this assumes the Wild opt not to re-sign star winger Kevin Fiala — the organization could afford both Fleury and Talbot. Though it might be unconventional, there’s reason to believe it could work.
Not only did Fleury and Talbot show the ability to co-exist in the regular season, both were consummate professionals in the six-game, opening-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues that ended in defeat last week.
When the Wild started Fleury in Game 1, then kept in net for the next four games as well, Talbot continued to be a good teammate despite his disappointment. When the Wild turned to Talbot on the brink of elimination in Game 6, Fleury was on the bench cheering him on.
“I wasn’t surprised when (the coaching staff) told me Cam was going,” said Fleury, who was acquired at the trade deadline in a blockbuster move with the Chicago Blackhawks. “I wanted him to do good and have a good game. It’s all about the team, right?”
Meanwhile, though Talbot admitted he was “pissed off” about not starting the series, he understood why coach Dean Evason came to that conclusion.
“I don’t think there was a wrong decision,” Talbot said. “Obviously, we trade for a guy like that with his pedigree and his past, why wouldn’t we start him Game 1?
Never once did Talbot make it about himself. Why?
“Because it’s not about me,” he said. “That’s what’s great about this (locker) room. Everybody has that mentality. There’s not one guy that says, ‘Poor me.’ ”
Those responses from Fleury and Talbot showcased their relationship in a nutshell. As much as both players want to play every game, they are more than willing to take the high road for the betterment of the team.
Now, it’s unclear if Guerin will even entertain the idea of keeping both Fleury and Talbot on the roster. It could come down to money, with the Wild on the verge of a cap crunch.
If Fleury is willing to sign for something close to $3 million a year, give or take, the Wild almost certainly will be interested. If Fleury wants something closer to $6 million, there’s no way the Wild could make that work.
Asked if he would be interested in re-signing with the Wild if the price is right, Fleury responded, “Yeah, for sure.” He reiterated that he loved his time in Minnesota, noting the only downside of the experience was being away from his family for an extended period of time.
“That’s something I don’t want to do again,” he said. “It was a good experience and all that. But I’d rather be at home with them.”
With a couple of months until free agency, Fleury planned to go to Chicago to see his wife and kids before eventually heading back home to Montreal for the summer.
“I’m glad I got the opportunity to play with this team,” Fleury said. “We will make some decisions and see what’s best for me and the family.”
As for Talbot, who is set to make $3.67 million next season, he isn’t holding a grudge despite the Wild benching him to start the playoffs. He’s ready to move forward.
“This is a special group, and I want to be a part of it,” he said. “I’m under contract for one more year, so unless they have something else planned, I plan on being back here in September.”
And if the Wild ultimately decide to re-sign Fleury this offseason, Talbot is confident Guerin will keep him in the loop.
“The night before we traded for Flower, (Guerin) said it could be a possibility, and I think I was the first person he came to find after he pulled the trigger on the deal,” Talbot said. “It means a lot that he does that. He keeps me in the loop. He doesn’t have to. It’s not part of his responsibility to worry about the players.
“He wanted to know how it was affecting me, and that says a lot about him. That’s respect going both ways, and I would assume to have that same line of communication all summer.”
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