If Canucks lose Jacob Markstrom, they should target Marc-Andre Fleury

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

If the Vancouver Canucks lose Jacob Markstrom, they should consider a trade for Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights.

There’s still time to work something out, but right now, it doesn’t look like the Vancouver Canucks and goalie Jacob Markstrom are close to reaching an agreement on a new contract.

That’s according to Rick Dhaliwal of TSN 1040. And if general manager Jim Benning doesn’t think he can work out a new deal with Markstrom, he better start thinking about possible replacements.

There isn’t a shortage of quality goaltenders available in free agency. This includes Robin Lehner,  and 2016 Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby. But there are even more big names that could be available via trade, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Frederik Andersen and Matt Murray.

Two weeks ago, Jesse Granger of The Athletic (subscription required) explained that he expects Vegas to give Lehner — a 2020 trade deadline pickup — a long-term extension. That would make Fleury expendable.

On Wednesday, Fleury spoke to The Athletic and emphasized his desire to remain in Vegas, even if they keep Lehner.

Related Story. Canucks: 3 goaltenders who could replace Markstrom. light

But if they manage to extend Lehner, there’s simply no way the cap-strapped Golden Knights can keep two expensive goalies on their roster. Fleury has two seasons left on his deal, and they both carry a giant $7 million cap hit, per CapFriendly.

Usually, it’s hard to work out a blockbuster trade with a competitive division rival. But if the Canucks lose Markstrom in free agency, they should see if the Golden Knights are willing to trade Fleury. And quite franky, why wouldn’t they?

Fleury has a Hall of Fame resume with three Stanley Cup championships and 466 wins. But he’ll be 36 in November, and his hefty cap hit will turn away many potential trade suitors (think the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, etc).

Now, Benning would have to work some magic in order to take on $14 million worth of cap hits from Fleury. If Vegas is willing to trade the All-Star goalie to Vancouver, perhaps they would take back an expensive player like Jay Beagle, Brandon Sutter or Antoine Roussel to make the deal work.

If Vegas doesn’t want one of Vancouver’s expensive forwards, Benning should be able to find a taker elsewhere. If he has to attach a sweetener, so be it.

And don’t forget there will be some cap room that will allow Benning to take on Fleury anyway if both Markstrom and Chris Tanev end up leaving.

The Canucks could easily win with the goaltending tandem of Fleury and Demko. And if the former didn’t perform well in Vancouver next season, they could simply expose him to the Seattle Kraken in next year’s expansion draft.

And even if Seattle weren’t to take him, Fleury would only be under contract for one more season.

What would Benning and Vancouver have to lose here? Vegas is going to be desperate to open up cap space if they extend Lehner, and the Canucks are one of the few teams that can make a realistic play for Fleury.

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Add it all up, and it makes sense for the Canucks to at least explore the possibility of trading for the future Hall of Famer, who could form a dynamic duo in the crease with Demko.