As he prepares for free agency, Fleury open to returning to Wild

Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury plays against the Nashville Predators in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

As he considers his plans for next season, Marc-Andre Fleury is leaving a door open to a return with the Minnesota wild.

The 37-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent after spending this season with the Chicago Blackhawks and Wild. After getting moved to Minnesota at the trade deadline, Fleury put up a 9-2-0 record with 2.74 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 11 regular-season games.

Unfortunately, Fleury's addition didn't lead to the success the Wild were hoping to have in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as they were eliminated in six games by the St. Louis Blues. Fleury played in five games in the series going 2-3 with a 3.04 GAA and .906 save percentage.

Despite not being able to go on a long run with the Wild, Fleury was impressed with his experience with the team and the city.

"It was such a great time, loved the time [in Minnesota] and everything," Fleury said in his end-of-season media availability. "Made it very appealing to play here. Definitely [I'd consider coming back].

"I'm glad I came, I'm glad I got the opportunity to play with this team. Such a great locker room, great chemistry between the guys and the staff, coaches. … Even people around town, when I went to restaurants and stuff, everybody was very welcoming and nice. They love the game, they love their hockey here, so it was good to live this."

Fleury had already made it known last month that he would like to continue his NHL career and play another season. He is in the final season of his three-year, $21-million contract and would reach free agency for the first time in his career.

After spending the bulk of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury was scooped up by the Vegas Golden Knights where he had a strong stretch winning a Vezina Trophy and helped the expansion team reach the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, he was dealt to Chicago as the Golden Knights needed to unload his $7-million cap hit.

While the veteran netminder might want to return to Minnesota, the Wild also face some uncertainty with their salary cap situation. They only have $8.18 million of cap space available next season and have to decide on the future of players like Kevin Fiala who is a restricted free agent.

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