The New York Islanders are on the verge of acquiring a much-needed No. 1 goalie as James Mirtle of the Athletic reports that the team is close to signing free-agent netminder Robin Lehner.
A true starting goalie was among New York’s top needs along with defensive help this offseason. Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss struggled behind the worst defense in the league last season as the Islanders allowed a league-worst 296 goals.
Halak has since signed with the Boston Bruins.
That left Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz with Greiss, who was coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career after going 13-8-2 with a .892 save percentage and 3.82 goals against average.
There was the possibility of New York having other options in Linus Soderstrom and Ilya Sorokin, as both prospects are in the organization’s pipeline. But Sorokin is staying in Russia for a few more seasons while Soderstrom is a bit of a wild card as he prepares to come over from Sweden.
Lehner at least bolsters the crisis in the crease for the time being. At 26 years old, he provides an injection of youth as he continues to prove that he can be a legitimate starter for a contending team.
Backstopping one of the worst teams in hockey with the Buffalo Sabres over the past two seasons, Lehner’s record of 37-52-17 isn’t pretty, but his save percentage of .915 and goals against average of 2.83 is promising.
Should the Islanders upgrade their defense, those numbers could get even better should the signing become official.