The Blackhawks will be sending centre prospect Mikael Hakkarainen back to Vegas in the trade, but Hakkarainen will remain with the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs, according to Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon. The move clears the Golden Knights of Fleury's $7-million cap hit for next season, the final year the three-year extension he signed with the club in 2018.
The 36-year-old is coming off a remarkable season that saw him post career-highs in goals against average (1.98) and save percentage (.928) and earn both the Vezina and the William M Jennings Trophy in the process.
"The opportunity to acquire a Vezina-winning goaltender is rare and one you cannot pass up," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "Marc-Andre improves our goaltending, strengthens our team defence and will have a huge impact on the overall development of the Blackhawks. Having a goaltender like this on our team will put the talent we currently have on our roster in a better position to achieve sustained success."
Upon landing in Vegas via expansion in 2017, the veteran netminder became the face of the franchise and an instant fan favourite thanks to his elite play and strong character, and has been vocal about his desire to remain in Vegas.
Late Tuesday evening, Fleury released a statement via his agent, Allan Walsh, thanking Vegas for his time with the club. The veteran netminder has yet to comment on his future plans.
Despite his success with the Golden Knights over the past four seasons, Fleury's tenure with the team has been rocky at times. His place in the starter's crease was called into question when the club acquired Robin Lehner from Chicago at the 2019-20 deadline, and again when his new counterpart was given the majority of playoff starts that spring.
Speculation about whether the Golden Knights might try to move Fleury increased in the fall with the signing of Lehner to a five-year, $25-million extension, but Fleury's performance ultimately saw him win over the bulk of starts deep into the playoffs.
Over nearly two decades in the league, Fleury has compiled an incredible resume of achievements that includes three Stanley Cup rings with the Pittsburgh Penguins and 90 playoff wins in 160 post-season starts. Since first appearing in the playoffs in the spring of 2007, Fleury has never missed the post-season -- that's 15 consecutive playoff berths, making him the first goalie in NHL history to have a run that long.