Thursday, April 19, 2018

Impressions of, and questions concerning--G, Robin Lehner

Published by, 4-18-2018

Goalie--Robin Lehner
DOB:  July 24, 1991 (Age, 27)
Draft:  2009, 2nd round (46th-overall) Ottawa
How acquired: 
June 26, 2015 Draft-day trade with Ottawa
Last contract signed:  1yr./$4 million
Final year of contract:  2017-18 (RFA)

2017-18- Stats:  53 games played | 14 wins | 26 losses |  9 OT | 3.01 GAA | .908 SV% | 3 shutouts

Buffalo Career Stats:  133 games | 42 wins | 61 losses | 22 OT | 2.77 GAA | .916 SV% | 6 shutouts

What we wrote preseason:  "It all began at the 2015 NHL Draft when the Buffalo Sabres sent the 21st overall pick to the Ottawa Senators for Robin Lehner. The trade was somewhat of a gamble in that it's not too often that at team trades a first-rounder for a goalie, but it wasn't without precedent. It was also a gamble for the Sabres in that Lehner was still an unknown quantity who was coming off of a season shortened by a concussion.

"With the deal consummated, Lehner entered the 2015-16 season as the undisputed No. 1 goalie in Buffalo. One first round pick and one full year later, the Sabres still didn't know if they had a No. 1 goalie (because he injuries limited him to 20 games played.) Lehner started 59 games last year for Buffalo and compiled a 23-26-8 record with a 2.68 GAA and .920 Sv%, thus proving he could handle the workload of a No. 1 goalie.

“'I've got nothing to prove to you,' Lehner told the gathered media after a recent workout in Buffalo (prior to the season.) 'Since I came here there have been some ups and downs. I've been injured, but I've been a steady over 92 percent (Sv%) and its something I want to keep improving on.' Lehner has been all that, all while facing the third most shots in the league last year (1,910)...but he looked shaky in odd-man situations and did let in more than his fair share of softies. Lehner's Achilles heel last season, however, was the shootout. He did not stop a single opponent in eight opportunities nor, in a weird oddity, did any of the shooters he faced mishandle the puck or shoot wide."

What we wrote mid-season:  "The 26-yr. old native of Gothenburg, Sweden boldly proclaimed that he 'had nothing left to prove' as he signed his one-year contract extension. And he ended up eating a lot of those words early on. Lehner has been great as of late, but prior to this six-game run of good solid team play, he sported a 5-12-3 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. And he lost another shootout. Still plenty to prove and if the Sabres ever want to really turn this season around, he needs to continue his recent strong play. It should also be noted that his name has come up in the rumor mill."

Impressions on his play this year:  Regardless of his "nothing to prove to you" quote, Lehner needed to prove that he could help bail out a struggling team when they truly needed it. Those words seemed to weigh on him as he lost the season opener in the shootout and got pounded in the next game at the NY Islanders allowing four goals on 16 shots. His first win finally came on October 21 in his sixth appearance. By then the Sabres were 1-5-2 and falling hard with their starter looking like he either didn't have the wherewithal to bail his team out, or was seemingly disinterested amidst the chaos surrounding him.

The Sabres were a mess this season and you can't blame Lehner entirely for the worst goals-against average and save percentage since he came to Buffalo. Often times, it would seem as if there was a lack of trust on both ends of the defensive equation, with him unsure of what his d-men would do and them seemingly trying to do too much for him. Lehner looked like a rookie on more than one occasion as he flailed around trying to stop the puck. It didn't work and it looks like the trade for him by former GM Tim Murray didn't work either.

New GM Jason Botterill said at his season-ending presser that they're "very excited about Linus Ullmark being one of our two goalies next year and we'll make a decision in the next couple of months who the other goalie will be in that situation."

Questions moving forward:  Where will he end up?

Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via and hockey

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