Former Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche believes Marc-Andre Fleury still has quite a bit of gas left in the tank.
Meloche served as the Penguins goaltending coach for seven years before stepping aside to take a scouting position with the club in 2013. He also worked for the team in other capacities since 1989, bearing witness to three Stanley Cup championships, the last of which (2009) was backstopped by Fleury.
After a round of golf at the Pro Am portion of the Canadian Open, Meloche told RDS.ca that Fleury, whose performance has fluctuated over the years, still has several good seasons left in him:
Last year, [Fleury] was one of the three best goalkeepers ... We lost against the Rangers, but we could not blame the keeper. When you do not score, you can not win. He still has six good years ahead of him. He is very strong mentally. With all the criticism he has received, three years ago, and the fact that he came back so strong, I have no doubt that the next six years will still be good.
The low point for Fleury, of course, was a playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012, wherein he posted a woeful .834 save percentage. He followed that up with a mark of .883 in his first five appearances during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, and was replaced by Tomas Vokoun for the duration of the postseason.
Fleury bounced back in 2013-14 with a .915 save percentage, a number that jumped to .919 at even strength, and .933 at 5-on-5 during the playoffs. At the same time, he was not a Vezina Trophy finalist, generally seen as the sign that a goalie is one of the three best in the league in any given year.
The 29-year-old is entering the final year of his contract, one that currently holds a cap hit of $5 million. As such, Fleury would certainly benefit from making a soothsayer out of Meloche by posting a career year in 2014-15.
Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Justin K. Aller