Blackhawks, Wild, Marc-Andre Fleury compromise to make deadline trade happen
The Hawks will receive a desperately needed first- or second-round 2022 draft pick from the Wild for the veteran goalie.
On Monday morning, after weeks of trying to find a trade match for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury that worked for all parties involved, Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson and Wild GM Bill Guerin finally found common ground.
A trade that sent Fleury to the Wild in arguably the biggest move of the NHL’s deadline day soon was finalized.
‘‘My stance was pretty clear on what I was looking for, and we found a nice balance between what we were both looking to do,’’ Davidson said. ‘‘It wasn’t too in-depth or too prolonged or anything like that. It was to the point, and boom, boom, boom. The pressure of the deadline approaching really kicked everything into high gear.’’
Guerin characterized negotiations a bit differently to reporters in Minnesota.
‘‘It has been a pretty crazy last couple of days [with] a lot of highs and lows,’’ he said. ‘‘A lot of, ‘This is getting done now’ [and] ‘This isn’t getting done at all,’ back and forth. But in the end, it’s a fair deal.’’
Guerin first called Davidson weeks ago after deciding to look into alternatives to his former goalie duo of Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen, he said.
But the process took awhile. Davidson was determined to recoup a first-round pick for a player of Fleury’s caliber. Guerin, meanwhile, publicly insisted he wasn’t willing to give up a first-round pick for anyone.
Ultimately, they reached a true compromise: The Hawks received a 2022 first- or second-round pick for Fleury after retaining 50% of his $7 million salary-cap hit.
If and only if the Wild reach the Western Conference finals and Fleury wins four or more games during the first two playoff rounds will the pick be a first-rounder.
Because that scenario likely would require the Wild to beat the Avalanche, it more likely than not will be a second-rounder. But getting another relatively high pick in the draft is significant regardless, considering the Hawks will relinquish their own first-rounder to the Blue Jackets — thanks to the trade for defenseman Seth Jones — unless they win the lottery.
The Hawks now have two guaranteed picks in the first two rounds of the coming draft, plus four third-rounders.
The return is what the Hawks desperately needed to get for Fleury, a pending unrestricted free agent, whose solid goaltending wasn’t worth keeping around for the final 19 games of a lost season.
He finished his brief Hawks tenure with a 19-21-5 record, a .908 save percentage and four shutouts, with his milestone 500th career victory Dec. 9 in Montreal standing out as the highlight moment.
Fleury will be missed in the locker room because his blend of easygoing personality and competitive drive quickly had made him one of the most beloved Hawks in years. But the move made clear sense for the Hawks.
Making it make sense for Fleury, who reportedly nixed other logical fits — such as the Maple Leafs, Oilers and Capitals — because he didn’t want to play in Canada or match up in the playoffs against the Penguins, proved to be far more difficult. Davidson said he let Fleury’s preferences dictate his decisions throughout the process.
‘‘I didn’t want to engage with anyone who he wouldn’t approve,’’ Davidson said. ‘‘I didn’t want to force the player’s hand by coming to him with anything he wasn’t going to be amenable to. It was figuring out where was a desirable location and then getting something done there.’’
Fleury said Monday he liked the Wild because of St. Paul’s relative geographic proximity to Chicago — ‘‘It’ll be easier for my family to visit or to visit them in the next few months,’’ he said — as well as his relationship with Guerin, a former Penguins teammate.
Davidson called it a ‘‘very favorable location’’ for Fleury.
Fleury and Talbot will be the goalies backstopping the Wild’s ‘‘built for the playoffs’’ roster after Kahkonen was traded Monday to the Sharks.
The Hawks, meanwhile, will roll with two other pending unrestricted free agents — Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia, who was called up from Rockford in time for the Hawks’ flight to Anaheim — as their goalies for the rest of the season. Prospect Arvid Soderblom is their only goalie under contract for 2022-23.