The New York Islanders signed Robin Lehner to a one-year deal this offseason and it is already paying off just nine games into the season.
After a down year in 2017-2018, the Buffalo Sabres decided to move on from goalie Robin Lehner. He became a UFA and the New York Islanders pounced on the former starter and gave him a one-year $1.5 million contract.
He later revealed in a tell-all with the Athletic that he struggled with anxiety and depression last year which played a role in his struggles. The Islanders were extremely supportive of Lehner and he’s become one of the easier guys to root for on this team.
It was so obvious last year that he wasn’t right. He had a .908 save percentage and a 3.01 goals against average. It was the worst year he’s had since 2014 when he was just 23 years old serving as the backup in Ottawa.
Sure, he was playing on an awful Sabres team last year which helped inflate his numbers in a bad way but it was clear that Lehner needed a change of scenery.
This is a guy who had over a .920 save percentage the two previous seasons. In 2016-2017 he had a .924 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average. It was by far the best season he’s had in the NHL.
He followed that up by playing 59 games with a .920 save percentage and a 2.68 goals against average. He also posted an impressive 13.29 goals saved above average.
By age 25 he established himself as a legit starter in this league before falling off last year. Now, through six starts, he’s been fantastic.
So far he has a .929 save percentage and a 2.39 goals against average. I know it’s a small sample size but think about how far he’s come in the last two years. Once he joined the Islanders he had to re-learn the position through the eyes of Mitch Korn.
Korn and goalie coach Piero Greco wanted to make his mechanics better and get him away from being a reactionary goalie. His positioning has been much better and he’s making saves look easy.
There’s no reason to think that he can’t continue this for the rest of the season. The .929 save percentage might be a little too high to expect but somewhere around .920 and 2.45 goals against seems about right.
If he does that, he might just get a second contract with the Islanders. Thomas Greiss, who also has been better, gets the start today but Lehner has established himself as the obvious starter.