The 2018 off-season was one of the more crazier summers in NHL history. John Tavares went north to Toronto, highly-touted Paul Stasny took his talents to Vegas, and James Van Reimsdyk returned home to Philadelphia. Despite this, there is a fair debate to be had that Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner has been more valuable than any of these signings.
When the Islanders lost Jaroslav Halak to the Boston Bruins on July 1st, there was an obvious hole to fill in net. The Islanders had Thomas Greiss, but not many were too excited in has play after a poor showing in the 2017-18 season.
This was also before the Islanders signed “goalie guru” Mitch Korn to be the Director of Goaltenders for the organization. The goalie class wasn’t the strongest, but was lead by Cater Hutton, who rejected playing for the Islanders and went to Buffalo. The Islanders were also interested in Jonathan Bernier, Petr Mrazek, and of course, Robin Lehner.
On July 3rd, the Islanders reached an agreement with Robin Lehner and signed him for one year and gave him 1.5 million dollars. This was seen as a low-risk, high-reward signing for the team, as if Robin was unsuccessful as an Islander, the team could let him walk at the end of the year.
At the time no one knew how impactful this signing would become, as the twenty-seven year old has been a major reason why the New York Islanders have had a very successful 2018-19 season so far. His stats have been phenomenal: his 2.18 GAA is leading the NHL, and his .927 save percentage is second in the NHL.
The Islanders goaltender tandem of Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner has been nothing but terrific throughout the season so far, but ever since Lehner relieved Thomas Greiss against Ottawa on December 28th, there’s been no looking back. He’s been on fire since, as he’s won seven straight games for the Islanders, while having a .959 SV% and a 1.22 GAA.
The biggest of the seven games came against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in which Lehner shocked the hockey world with his shutout over John Tavares and company.
Robin Lehner has certainly proved his worth to the club, but there is a debate to be made that his play throughout the first half of the season has been just as important as the additions other teams made this off-season. He may not have the stardom like a few others, but if you were to take Lehner off the Islanders and replace with another average NHL goalie, certainly the Islanders record would suffer.
Lehner has stolen and made countless game changing saves throughout the first half of the season. As of now there is only one signing that’s has been close to bringing the amount of success Lehner has to the Islanders, and that would be former Islanders captain John Tavares signing with the Maple Leafs. If you take Tavares off the Maple Leafs, they would still be very successful due to the star power of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Morgan Rielly. Additionally, Lehner has been solid all year, whereas Greiss has been slightly inconsistent, either looking incredible or shaky at times so far this year.
Therefore, I believe that Robin Lehner was the most important signing of the 2018 offseason when taking into account value and importance to team success.
Robin Lehner should be a the favorite for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, as he has persevered and overcame drug and alcohol abuse while also battling a bipolar disorder. Overcoming what he has at such a young age is inspiring and has been a very great story line for the NHL. The Islanders fanbase and organization have embraced him for everything he is and want nothing more than see Lehner succeed on but more importantly off the ice.
Robin Lehner has been remarkable this season and has certainly been a factor on why the Islanders have been as successful as they have been so far. Everything has been nearly perfect for the Islanders this season, and it will be very exciting to see how they play down the stretch before the all-star break, led by you guessed it, Robin Lehner.
Thanks for reading! This article was written by DevitonNHL.