Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner is drawing attention from around the league and specifically from the Carolina Hurricanes, according to reports.
With the NHL on break for this weekend’s All-Star game, there has not been a ton of news to talk about, however, The Athletic and TSN’s Pierre LeBrun has reported that the Carolina Hurricanes are “monitoring closely” the Chicago Blackhawks current goaltending situation, namely Robin Lehner.
The Hurricanes have had an inconsistent Petr Mrazek and a resurgent James Reimer between the pipes this season but want to find another level of goaltending performance, something Lehner could provide.
The issue with all of this speculation around Lehner is that he has been electric for the Blackhawks and has been pivotal, along with Corey Crawford, in the Blackhawks’ current position in the standings. Lehner is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season but it was believed by many that the Blackhawks would do their best to extend Lehner depending on his one-year contract performance.
Lehner has proven to be exactly what the Blackhawks wanted out of him with a 15-8-4 record, a save percentage of .922 and goals allowed an average of 2.86. Lehner is currently 11th in save percentage and has at times had to completely bail out the pour Blackhawks defense. Without Lehner, I think it is safe to say they are not in their current position, just three points out of the wild card.
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) January 22, 2020
So what would it take for something like this to transpire?
First off, I think the Blackhawks would have to free fall in the standings. With them currently sitting three points out of the playoffs, it is hard to imagine that by February 24th the Blackhawks have fallen that far out of the hunt.
One thing that could entice the Blackhawks to part with Lehner would be the inclusion of one of the Hurricanes defenseman. Names like Brett Pesce, Jake Bean or Haydn Fleury are some players that could interest the Blackhawks. It could theory, push them towards moving on from Lehner, how they also could re-sign him in the offseason if Carolina cannot extend them.
Hurricane fans might stir at the thought of depleting from their major strength but the addition of Lehner to either Mrazek or Reimer could be enough to push the Hurricanes over the edge in the Eastern Conference. If the Blackhawks also agreed to take on either of their current goaltenders it could allow them to go out and make other moves.
So should the Blackhawks move Lehner?
I think it would be a mistake to move Lehner. I’m like many Blackhawks fans who have been impressed with his play on the ice but also his presence in the Hawks locker room. He is willing to be blunt with teammates and calls it how he sees it. That’s good for the locker room.
I think instead of looking to move Lehner, extension talks should be route number one for the Blackhawks. He has more than earned a big payday and with he and Crawford expiring at the end of the season the money is there to give Lehner what he deserves.
If the Blackhawks do want to capitalize on their goaltending depth I would consider moving franchise staple Corey Crawford but if quality offers don’t exist I would continue to roll with this excellent tandem.