By all accounts, Robin Lehner is the second-best goalie on the free agent market behind Sergei Bobrovsky. His most recent team, the New York Islanders, need a starting goalie and if it’s not Bobrovsky, they can’t do any better on the open market than re-signing Lehner. So why hasn’t a deal come together yet? Well, it’s not Lehner who’s to blame. Speaking at the NHL Awards media availability today, Lehner spoke honestly about wanting to return to New York, as relayed by NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. Lehner said that he does not want to be a UFA and hopes to re-sign with the Islanders before July 1st. He even went so far as to say that the term of the extension does not matter; he would be willing to sign a short-term or long-term deal to remain in New York. If Lehner wants to return and term doesn’t matter, that would seemingly imply that either GM Lou Lamoriello and the Isles want to explore other options or they aren’t satisfied with Lehner’s salary demands. Regardless, it seems unlikely that they will find a better and easier fit than simply re-signing the 27-year-old. In his own words, Lehner expressed his hope that he will don an Islanders jersey again next season and beyond:
I know the team knows where I stand and I just hope something works out… I like the people there. I love my teammates. I love the organization. So obviously I want to be back.
- The Athletic’s John Vogl writes that the Buffalo Sabres will be tempted to trade away the final pick of the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night. In such a deep draft class, the No. 31 represents the last opportunity for a team to trade back into the first round before more than 12 hours pass before the start of Day Two, during which time teams will be able to talk more in-depth about trades to move up in the second round for the top available prospects. Seeing as the Sabres will have already picked in the first round – their own selection coming at No. 7 – the team may be willing to move back and recoup more picks if they aren’t in love with any player available at the end of the first. There has been speculation that teams may try to trade back in to get in front of the start of the next tier of centers that could open the second round. Vogl writes that previous deals where a team has dealt away the final first-rounder have been a toss-up and the Sabres return will largely dictate whether it’s a smart move. In a deep draft in which the Sabres are without a second-round pick, potentially picking up multiple mid-round picks could be a smart move. So long as Buffalo is able to do better than the last team to deal away the final pick – the Pittsburgh Penguins sent theirs and Oskar Sundqvist to the St. Louis Blues for Ryan Reaves and a second-rounder in 2017 – they should consider a move.
- As if the Boston Bruins’ first list of post-playoff injuries wasn’t bad enough, the team has since updated even more injuries. In addition to a fractured jaw and lower-body injury, captain Zdeno Chara will also require surgery on his elbow to clean up loose fragments. The 42-year-old was miraculously playing through several injuries in the postseason, but fortunately none are expected to impact the start of next season. Joakim Nordstrom, another key playoff contributor, was playing through a foot fracture in the Stanley Cup Final, but it will merely require rest to heal. Finally, the team announced that Anders Bjork, who missed the second half of the season following shoulder surgery, is recovering well and should be ready for the start of the season. If Bjork can get up to speed, he should challenge for a roster spot in Boston next season. Chris Wagner also stated that he had surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in the Eastern Conference Final, but was shockingly able to rehab in a few weeks time and was actually cleared to play in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup, but it was a coach’s decision that he sit. In one final update, the team revealed that John Moore has been scheduled for surgery next week to repair a broken humerus. Moore suffered the injury in the regular season finale, but somehow played ten playoff games nevertheless. Of all of the Bruins’ reported injuries, including Kevan Miller’s twice-broken knee cap and Brad Marchand’s barrage of muscle damage, Moore’s has to be considered the worst. It will require four to six months of rehab, meaning Moore is very doubtful for the start of the season and may need some luck to play again before the end of the calendar year.