So far, the New York Islanders have had a really good season. In addition, the blue and orange are starting to really click as a team. One of the keys to their success has been the goaltending. The Isles need to consider re-signing Robin Lehner.
With his play, Lehner has put himself in a situation where the Isles should consider re-signing him.
The 27-year old, Lehner (turns 28 in July) appeared to be a talented goalie who just never put it all together. The 6’4, 245 lbs netminder showed flashes both in Ottawa and in Buffalo but it never materialized for him on a consistent basis.
Having a crowded goalie situation, Ottawa moved Lehner to Buffalo before the 2015 NHL Draft. The Sabres gave up a first-round pick in 2015 (21st Overall – Ottawa selected Colin White). Ironically that was the Isles first-round selection that they traded to Buffalo in the Thomas Vanek deal.
While Lehner wasn’t bad in Buffalo he never became the #1 goalie the Sabres were hoping for. When Lehner’s contract ended last year, the Sabres decided to turn the page.
After investigating the trade market last off-season, Lou Lamoriello decided to go with a stop-gap option in Lehner. With the help of the Isles new goalie coaches, as well as moving forward regarding off-ice issues, Lehner has put his game in a really good place (9-6-3, 2.14 Goals Against Average, .930 Save Percentage).
Going into New Year’s Day, Lehner led the NHL both in goals-against average and save percentage.
Lamoriello and the Isles do not have a lot of great options it seems in terms of next year on the goalie front. Yes, Sergei Bobrovsky is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st but is it prudent to sign a 31-year old goalie (turns 31 next September) to a long-term deal, especially one who has logged as many minutes as he has?
The other viable free agent option in net is Semyon Varlamov. But like Bobrovsky, Varlamov turns 31 in 2019 as well (April). Is Varlamov a better option than Lehner?
In terms of in-house possibilities, none of the Isles goalie prospects seem to be a possibility next season. Ilya Sorokin’s agent has stated his client will finish his current KHL contract (ends in the spring of 2020) and there is no guarantee he is coming to North America after that.
Linus Soderstrom continues to be plagued by injuries and while Jakub Skarek (3rd round pick in 2018) is having a great year in the Finnis League (2.02 goals against average & .920 save percentage) he is only 19 and needs to develop more.
If Lehner keeps up his play the Isles would be wise to sign him to a 2-3 year extension.