(Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire)
Another piece has been added to the depressing wasteland of awful Tim Murray Trade Acquisitions. Robin Lehner was an early favorite to join this list throughout his entire Sabres career of injuries, shootout goals, and losing. A lot of losing.
There was almost a sour feeling surrounding Lehner over the course of his entire, yet short lived, Sabres career. I don’t know if it was giving up a first round pick, the injuries, the losing, the political views, or the more likely all of the above option that granted this feeling about the goaltender, but I think most Sabres fans know what I’m talking about. Lehner had his flashes of brilliance that unfortunately, yet almost always, were erased shortly by a defensive hiccup, soft goal, or inability to score at the other end. Lehner never really felt like he was going to become “the guy” for the Sabres in net – when you mix the price tag that he came with and the inconsistency of both his and the Sabres play, it’s not surprising that we’ve found ourselves here. Robin Lehner is set to become a UFA this summer as the Sabres won’t extend him a qualifying offer. The team plans to run with Linus Ullmark as one of the two net-minders and we’ll see them bring in another goalie this offseason to ease the playing time with Ullmark.
It’ll be interesting to see where Lehner ends up and how he does in the future. There’s no question he wasn’t worth the first round pick sent out to acquire him, but I do believe he has the chance to start and have success in the right situation. He’ll need to stay healthy and resort back to his playing ways of 2016-17 when he posted a .920% save percentage. The Sabres never really provided a fair opportunity for Lehner with the defense sent out in front of him at times, but there’s no doubt Lehner could have pulled more weight himself at times too.
Tim Murray’s original trade for Lehner was a premature and outrageously overpaid attempt to fill a big need with an unproven prospect with an injury history – it blew up, and some could say that timer was ticking and ready to go off from day one. The Sabres will now turn their hopes to young Linus Ullmark who a Swedish hockey reporter called a “future superstar” of the NHL in an interview with WGR550 this week.