The Athletic’s Max Bultman proposes three possible cap-related Red Wings trades to be made this coming offseason, and his third “weaponization” of the Wings’ cap space is quite intriguing:
The candidate: Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas: In spite of their need of a goaltender to pair with Jonathan Bernier, the rebuilding Red Wings aren’t in an ideal position to bring in a player as expensive as Fleury to fill that hole. Fleury himself should still be good enough to not be a pure cap dump, even after losing his starting job in Vegas, but his contract is likely too rich for this point in his career, too. That makes him a tough case.
But, what about copying the manner in which Vegas acquired Robin Lehner this trade deadline? In that deal, Toronto stepped in as an intermediary between Vegas and Chicago, retained some salary and cap hit, and got a fifth-round pick for its trouble. And that was for just over a month’s worth of cap space.
In a Fleury deal, with bigger money and two years at odds, Detroit would be able to command a much better sweetener for providing the same service, if Vegas finds a contender interested in taking on Fleury. Who might that contender be? That’s another question, but who it is shouldn’t ultimately change the dynamic too much (though it might help if it’s also a cap-strapped team, that really needs Detroit to retain some of Fleury’s AAV).
This would be a bit different than the Patrick Marleau cap-dump trade between Toronto and Carolina last year, and retaining salary as an intermediary probably doesn’t bring a first-round pick to Detroit. Still, in terms of both real dollars and cap dollars, this would represent a serious savings for both the team acquiring Fleury, and the Golden Knights, who could then use the space to take a run at someone to help put them over the top. There’s value in that, even if it’s not the coveted first-round pick.