Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres announced that goaltender Robin Lehner has signed a one-year extension worth $4 million.
Both the team and Lehner, an RFA, avoid arbitration thanks to this deal, which is quite clearly a “prove it” contract designed for Lehner to either step his game up and show he’s deserving of a big, long-term contract, or a chance for the team to see if he’s worth investing in, and, failing that, give heir apparent Linus Ullmark another year of seasoning as the starter in Rochester.
This is the best case scenario for the Sabres and GM Jason Botterill, as it gives them one more chance to see if Lehner is worth the investment that some other previous GM made in him, at minimum risk and a favorable term. If Lehner’s game takes a step forward, then great, you can sign him to a longer deal next offseason, when he’ll still be an RFA. If he’s the same on-and-off player he was last season, then you can let him go and let some combination of Ullmark and a free agent battle for the starting job next season at minimal cost.
As much as we love to pick Lehner apart on these boards, it’s tough to see much downside to this deal thanks to the favorable cost and term. So...challenge?
Note: This report was delayed due to DBTB being hacked yesterday by the Russians, who were looking for old scouting reports of Mikhail Grigorenko.