It's amazing how much a single playoff run can potentially impact the perception of both a franchise and a player, and that might be happening right now for the Pittsburgh Penguins and two of their players.
There's no doubt that while playing in an extremely limited sample size, goaltender Matt Murray has been dominant, both in the regular season filling in for an injured Marc-Andre Fleurry, as well as in the playoffs where he has been asked to shoulder the burden of a starting goaltender with less than 20 games of National Hockey League experience under his belt.
Murray has been so good in fact that Fleury, despite appearing to be healthy, is now playing in a back up role on the bench as he watches Murray lead his Penguins, and for good reason, Murray has arguably been the best goaltender Pittsburgh has had this season, albeit over a much shorter time frame. So good that Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz went so far as to suggest to ESNP's Pierre Lebrun that Murray was looking like a franchise caliber goaltender.
With that kind of talk, it's no surprise that the speculation of a trade involving Marc-Andre Fleury has already begun, and while fans in Pittsburgh may bristle at the norion of trading a player who has been one of the faces of the franchise for several years, it makes a lot of sense. The Penguins would move $5.75 million of cap space off their books for the next three seasons, and a proven goaltender with three years of term, is an extremely valuable commodity in a market that currently has several teams desperate for a quality goaltender.
The Penguins could be looking at a major return in picks and prospects that would secure their future, or potentially a quality player, potentially a defenseman, that could solidify the roster while leaving the Penguins with an extremely capable goaltender for the future in Murray. In the case of a trade for picks and prospects, the Penguins would have new found cap space to add to their roster through free agency as well.
The only issue here when it comes to Fleury's value would appear to be the fact that Fleury is coming off a relatively serious injury, but despite that finished in the top 6 in goals against average, save percentage, and wins, when it comes to NHL goaltenders who played in over 50 games this season.
Reporter Sean Coleman of the CTV has suggested a possible trade to Toronto could be a good fit, although they are still in the early stages of their rebuild.
Any team in need of quality goaltending would be interested, and you can add teams like the Calgary Flames who had disastrous goaltending this season, or even the Dallas Stars who's goaltending is one of their biggest weaknesses, to the list of potential candidates.