When word emerged earlier today that Robin Lehner and the Vegas Golden Knights had come to terms on a five-year, $25MM contract extension, the goaltender was quick to squash the rumors. Lehner said “it’s not true” and called the rumors “annoying” when speaking to the media – “I’m here to win a Cup, not discuss this stuff.” It seemed at the time that maybe the reports were truly erroneous.
The only issue with Lehner’s vehement dismissal of the contract terms though is that reliable sources have since come forward to corroborate the extension rumors. The Athletic’s Jesse Granger, who knows the Knights as well as anyone, writes that Vegas does plan to extend Lehner and those talks have indeed begun. While he echoes Lehner’s comment that “nothing is finalized”, Granger stops short of dismissing the possibility that the two sides could be close to a resolution. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski goes on step further, reporting that there is in fact a handshake agreement in place between the Golden Knights and Lehner on a new deal. He also believes that the five-year term and $25MM price tag are accurate.
Should the purported extension come to fruition, it will be a win-win for both sides. Despite playing at an elite level for the past three seasons, Lehner has only landed one-year contracts and is playing on his fourth different team in that span. His goal has always been to find a long-term home and his fit with Vegas has been obvious. At a $5MM AAV, this deal may not be at the top of Lehner’s potential market value, but it would provide him with security and a the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup each year. As for the Knights, goaltending was not considered a major area of need when the team acquired Lehner at the trade deadline as the intended backup to Marc-Andre Fleury, but it would have become an issue down the road as the 35-year-old Fleury neared the end of his contract with his play continuing to slip. Once an extension with Lehner is finalized, Vegas will have merely solved their problem in net before it had a chance to occur. Of course, Fleury’s days with the team are now numbered as Vegas cannot afford to keep both goalies, even at a very fair price for Lehner. With limited cap space this off-season, the Golden Knights will have to move their veteran keeper and officially hand the starting job to Lehner.