In his next contract, Robin Lehner put a high priority on stability.
He mentioned it over and over again in his Zoom meeting with the media following the signing of his new 5-year $25 million contract.
It’s clear he believes with the Vegas Golden Knights, he finally has it.
I’ve worked very very hard for this. It’s been a long journey since I moved into the league. I’ve had my bumps and bruises, I’ve battled through a lot of things… I have a 5-year-old son that has five different hockey jerseys. We live a privileged life, but you want to give your family stability as well and I couldn’t find a better opportunity and a better setting than here in Vegas with a great community and fan base. -Robin Lehner
Lehner has bounced around a lot in the last few years of his career. After putting up good numbers on a struggling team in Buffalo, he was not extended a qualifying offer by the Sabres which saw him hit the unrestricted free agent market in the summer of 2018. He bet on himself, signing a one-year deal worth just $1.5 million. That season he turned in a Vezina quality year and appeared to be headed for a payday in the summer of 2019. But, while the pay raise came (he signed for $5 million) term did not. He accepted another one-year deal, this time in Chicago. He split time with Corey Crawford and then at the deadline found himself on a third team inside of two calendar years all while playing out the end of an expiring contract.
He’s about as open and honest a person as you’ll find in the NHL and he has not been shy in sharing his disappointment that he was unable to find a long-term home despite performing at a high level. That’s why when pen hit paper on the deal in Vegas, he was overjoyed to have finally found it.
It’s obviously been a pretty emotional day for me and my family. We are exteremly happy to be here and get this deal done. I have a lot of people to thank but it’s a big win for us. -Lehner
There’s just one problem that remains. Despite committing himself to the Golden Knights for the next five seasons, Lehner’s contract did not come with a full no-trade clause. Instead, he received a modified no-trade which allows him to veto eight teams in the first three seasons and then five in the final two.
That’s not exactly reassuring regarding stability considering this is an organization that signed another goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, to a similar contract in July 2018 which was scheduled to run through 2022. Vegas will likely cut ties with Fleury with two years still left on the deal and that contract actually had a larger no-trade clause than Lehner’s.
Lehner is well-aware of how the Golden Knights conduct business. He described it as a “no politics team,” clarifying to mean that the best players play no matter the situation. So when I posed the blunt question of, “how do you feel stable in an organization when you do not have a full no-trade clause?” he answered calmly, insightfully, and incredibly confidently.
Because I know what I’m going to do and I know how I’m going to perform. I am a loyal person and I want to play for a team that wants me to be a part of that team so if there would be anything in the future where this team doesn’t want to have me a part of it I don’t think it would be a problem finding a new place. But for now, I feel good because the cards are in my hand and it’s up to me how I play them and that’s all I ever ask for. -Lehner
He doesn’t feel stable because of the length of the contract necessarily as much as he feels stable because of his belief in his own abilities. He knows that if he continues to perform at a level his current coach called “elite” that there will be absolutely no reason to replace him between the Vegas pipes.
Lehner went on to say that he believes the knowledge of having term on his contract and staying with the same organization will make him an even better goalie than he already has been.
Anything can always happen but I’ve bet on myself for a few years now and have had some severe problems in my life. Now I don’t have them and I have stability and I look forward to getting in the best shape that I possibly can and I have changed a few things in my game and keep getting better. I’m 29-years-old, I’ve felt like I’ve grown in the position a lot but there’s a lot in my position I know I can get a lot better with. I look forward to that challenge. -Lehner
This had to be music to the Golden Knights’ front office’s ears, and it should for fans as well.
They just signed a goalie for a fair price with a five-year term that’s consistently preformed among the absolute best at his position for years and he believes he’s only going to get better. And, he’s so confident in that belief that he sees a deal without full trade protection as just as stable as if he had it. That’s the type of self-belief any team would love to have out of any player on their roster.
The Golden Knights have it from the player in the most important position in the sport and they have it through the year 2025. It doesn’t get much better than that.