The Vegas Golden Knights finally got presumptive starting goaltender Robin Lehner back on Tuesday, activating the newly re-signed net minder from the Injured Reserve. Lehner had missed more than a month, leaving veteran Marc-Andre Fleury to carry a heavy load in this season’s condensed schedule. There was some confusion as to why it took Lehner so long to return from what was initially considered a minor lower-body injury. Unfortunately, some of that speculation brought up Lehner’s previous struggles with substance abuse and mental health issues. Looking to set the record straight, Lehner spoke with the media today and revealed that he not only was rehabbing his lower-body injury, but had also suffered a concussion. Lehner noted that normally he would not have disclosed this information, as teams and players are not typically open about injuries beyond what is required, but he felt that needed to clear his name, even though he was disappointed it had reached that point. Fortunately, Lehner appears to have moved past both injuries and is expected to return to action shortly now that he is back on the active roster.
- As for Lehner’s partner in net, if former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford would have had his way, Fleury would not even be in Vegas this season. Speaking with The Athletic’s Josh Yohe, Rutherford explained that he heavily pursued his former starter this past off-season. Despite a difficult 2019-20 season for the veteran, Rutherford was hoping to bring Fleury back to Pittsburgh to pair with young Tristan Jarry in the wake of Matt Murray’s departure. Rutherford began planning even before the off-season began, contacting the Knights during the playoffs to inform them of his interest. Rutherford also stated that he even went so far as to buy out Jack Johnson primarily to open up cap space to add Fleury. At the end of the day, trade talks never went too far, with Rutherford implying that they could not make the cap implications work. However, Vegas owner Bill Foley also previously hinted that he may not have signed of on a Fleury trade anyhow. Foley knows that Fleury is the face of the Golden Knights franchise and could not be happier about it. For his part, Rutherford told Yohe that allowing Fleury to go to Vegas in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft was the hardest thing he ever had to do as GM.
- In just a few short years, the Golden Knights have shown that they are not afraid to make bold moves, such as signing Lehner to an expensive, long-term deal even with Fleury’s heavy contract already on the books. So, while the club looks to have few holes this season, don’t be surprised to see another eye-popping transaction ahead of the trade deadline. Even in what is shaping up to be a quiet trade market, TSN’s Frank Seravalli labels Vegas as one of just eight team that are considered to be legitimate buyers. He believes that they could target a top rental center to solidify their depth down the middle.