The New Jersey Devils need a goalie in the worst way next season. A really good goalie in Las Vegas is expected to become available. Is trading for RobinLehner worth the risk for the Devils?
An old friend to the New Jersey Devils is flaming out in the worst way in Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights are eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in their history, and Robin Lehner was shut down for the rest of the season because he needs surgery on his shoulder. After it was announced he was getting the surgery, Knights head coach Peter DeBoer said some pretty pointed words.
"“The announcement speaks for itself,” DeBoer said on Tuesday. “I’m concerned about the guys that are here, battling with us tonight.”"
The prevailing thought now is that Robin Lehner can be had in the offseason. This is the Vegas Golden Knights. They are brutal. They traded away Marc-Andre Fleury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and the face of the franchise because they no longer wanted to deal with his cap hit. We see how far that got them. They’ve traded a laundry list of good players just because, and Lehner would be no different. They run their team like a business and a business only.
The New Jersey Devils should have pushed for Lehner back in 2020 when the Chicago Blackhawks traded him to the Knights in the first place. That was their only real shot at him since he signed with them prior to free agency.
Lehner still has three years left on his deal that comes with a $5 million average salary. That’s quite the commitment for a player that is coming off shoulder surgery, but when Lehner is on he is Vezina quality. It’s a clear risk for any team going after him, but is it a risk the Devils think might be worth it?
Shoulder surgery isn’t hip surgery or anything like that. It’s something most goalies make a full recovery from. Lehner should be back to his best ways next season. Although, it’s clearly not a guarantee. Lehner has seen some bumps and bruises in the past, but this is the first time he’s dealing with a significant injury. The last time he missed significant time is when he had a high-ankle sprain while he was with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Devils are going to be risk-averse when it comes to the goalie situation this offseason. They have to ask whether Lehner is actually a risk. He hasn’t been the same player he was when he was a Vezina nominee with the New York Islanders, but he’s still been very effective with the Blackhawks and Golden Knights.
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The rumors on Mackenzie Blackwood are both team and player aren’t against a change of scenery. Who knows if those rumors are more conjecture or actually true. Maybe losing Blackwood and gaining Lehner is a net positive for everyone. Blackwood has a higher upside for his career since he is five years younger, but there is no track record of dominant player over a full season. Lehner has that. It’s definitely a risk, and Lehner has a limited no-trade clause so he could put the Kobach on a trade, but the Devils should at least pursue the deal.