The New York Islanders continued to make moves on Tuesday evening and finally addressed one of their most glaring weaknesses from the 2017-18 season — goaltending.
The Islanders announced that they have agreed to terms with veteran goalie Robin Lehner on a one-year contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but it is reportedly worth $1.5 million.
Lehner spent the past three seasons playing for the Buffalo Sabres. He was eligible for restricted free agency this summer but was not tendered a qualifying offer, allowing him to hit the unrestricted market. It was a market that was obviously tough for goalies.
The job ahead of Lehner is not going to be an easy one. The Islanders were one of the worst defensive teams in recent NHL history during the 2017-18 season due to the combination of a porous defense (that really has not been improved at all this offseason) and a goaltending duo of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss that was not able to hold up behind it. As a result the Islanders gave up a league-worst 296 goals, completely wasting what was a top-10 offense.
Lehner is coming off of a really tough year in Buffalo but has at times shown the ability to be a solid starting goalie at the NHL level. If nothing else this is a pretty strong low-risk, potentially high-reward gamble for the Islanders.
Given the rest of the moves the Islanders have made this offseason (losing John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs; acquiring every fourth-line player they can find) this is probably their strongest one of the summer.
Will it be enough to make a difference in the standings given everything else that has happened to the roster this summer? Probably not. But they absolutely needed another goalie and Lehner is a strong gamble.
He joins Thomas Greiss as the other half of the Islanders’ goaltending duo.