Season Stats: 53 GP | 14-26-9 | 3.01 GAA | .908 SV %
Contract Status: UFA
Somewhere in an isolated town in Sweden, goaltender Robin Lehner is seething. The list of possible reasons he’s angry is long. Like, Stephen King-dystopian-battle-between-good-and-evil long. Somewhere on that list, though is former Sabres general manager Tim Murray. It’s all his fault. All of it. He brought Lehner here. He valued the netminder as a first round pick.
He designed this odd defense that can’t defense to save their lives. Lehner is likely climbing to the peak of some thatched roof and shouting “MMMMMUUUUUURRRRRAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY!” The pained scream echoes through the cobblestone streets, sending flocks of birds to blanket the sky.
As unrealistic as this scenario may be, Lehner is undoubtedly the most passionate player to take the ice for the Buffalo Sabres in the last few seasons. Whether it’s an epic stare-down or a fit at being pulled or a terse postgame presser, Lehner wore his heart on his sleeve. That intensity was a blessing and a curse. It never really translated into great play; in fact, he statistically got worse in each successive season in Buffalo. Plummeting from a .924 save percentage and a .619 quality save percentage in his first season as a Sabre, Lehner finished this year at a substandard .908 and .480, respectively.
There are rumors that Lehner was hindered by injury this year, and he ended his season early because of it. Either Lehner pushed through to escape the injury-prone label, or out of commitment to this team, or we may just never know, but it was not a good year for him. On a one-year ‘prove it’ contract, Lehner probably did not lock down another season in Buffalo.
The lanky Swede often made an athletic first save, but put himself out of position for the rebound. Of course, a better team would eliminate those second chances, but this iteration of the Sabres needed Lehner to be more technically sound, and it didn’t pan out.
At 26-years-old, Lehner is probably not done in the NHL, though his days as a starter may be behind him. Still, if he could commit to working on the technical side and get better positionally, he might be able to steal a job on some of the league’s more desperate rosters.
Twitter Grade: D
Season Grade: C-
What grade would you give Robin Lehner this season?
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