The Carolina Hurricanes have a deep defensive group (even with Dougie Hamilton sidelined), a trio of impressive young forwards and a former captain returning as a midseason boost. The team is third in terms of goal differential in the Metropolitan Division, yet head into the All-Star break in fifth place and battling to hold onto a wild card position.
One thing the team has been desperate to find over the last several years has been a solid starting goaltender, something that has proved elusive to this point. Petr Mrazek reinvigorated his career last season when he posted a .914 save percentage through 40 games with the Hurricanes, but after struggling in the playoffs he has been his old inconsistent self again this year. The bounce-back for James Reimer has been enough to keep the Carolina goaltending situation afloat, but according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription required) the Hurricanes are still keeping their eye on the market.
LeBrun writes that the Hurricanes have “monitored closely” the goaltending situation in Chicago, where the Blackhawks find themselves with two strong options in net who are both headed towards unrestricted free agency. Robin Lehner in particular is of interest, as LeBrun explains the Hurricanes tried to sign him as a free agent last summer and like him “a lot.”
What’s not to like? After finishing third in Vezina Trophy voting last season Lehner has proven it wasn’t just the tight New York Islanders defensive system that pushed his numbers into the stratosphere. The 28-year old goaltender has a .922 save percentage with the Blackhawks this season, which is actually only slightly ahead of his career average. Remember that Lehner also posted a .936 in the Islanders’ eight-game playoff run last spring, including coming oh-so-close to stealing Game 1 against the Hurricanes in the second round.
Lehner is headed for unrestricted free agency again and this time wants to be paid fairly for his career performance. LeBrun notes that the Blackhawks had a “brief conversation” with his camp recently and plan to speak again, but it’s not clear yet how the situation with Lehner and Corey Crawford, a franchise icon and fellow pending UFA, will turn.