Robin Lehner signs 5-year contract extension with Golden Knights

Vegas is rolling with Lehner for the long haul. Now, the fun begins.

Robin Lehner is sticking around.

The goalie and former Vezina Trophy finalist has signed a five-year, $25 million contract ($5 million AAV) with the Vegas Golden Knights, the team announced Saturday.

TSN was first to report of the signing.

A long-term deal had to keep the Lehner-Vegas partnership together beyond this season had been reportedly in the works during the league’s pause, and during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Athletic reported Sept. 9 that both sides were in the works on a long-term deal.

Two days later, The Fourth Period reported that there was an agreement in place for the five-year, $25 million deal for Lehner to remain with the Golden Knights, to which the goalie denied the report when asked the next day — to the surprise of no one. The report also stated talks started as early as July.

Lehner, who was a Vezina finalist with the New York Islanders in 2019, signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on July 1. He went 16-10-5 with Chicago before being traded to the Golden Knights on Feb. 24 for Malcolm Subban, a second-round pick in next week’s NHL Draft and prospect defenseman Slava Demin.

Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury rotated starts in seven games before the season paused March 12 due to COVID-19. When the NHL returned to play in August, coach Peter DeBoer made Lehner his No. 1 goalie with Fleury as the backup.

Lehner went 9-7 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 16 playoff starts en route to leading the Golden Knights to the Western Conference Final, where they lost in five games to the Dallas Stars.

The Golden Knights were Lehner’s fourth team in three seasons (Buffalo, New York Islanders, Chicago, Vegas) but this is only his second multi-year deal since signing a three-year deal with the Ottawa Senators in 2014.

Now comes the fun part. Lehner was set to hit free agency at 9 a.m. on Oct. 9, but with him off the market, the attention now turns to Fleury. The veteran netminder and face of the franchise has two years remaining on his contract that carries a $7 million cap hit. All signs point to Vegas moving on from Fleury in some capacity, especially given the actions of agent Allan Walsh tweeting a photo of his client being stabbed through his torso with a sword carrying DeBoer’s name on the blade.

If the Golden Knights move on from Marc-Andre Fleury, Henrik Lundqvist should be a target

Fleury has since claimed that he doesn’t want to be traded and would like to finish his career with the Golden Knights, but if Vegas wants to be big-game spenders in free agency — going after the likes of Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug — then someone (whether Fleury or a skater carrying a decent cap hit) will need to be moved in some capacity before Friday. The Golden Knights are $59,876 above the cap, according to CapFriendly. Teams are allowed to go 10 percent above the cap during the offseason.

For now, Lehner is in the fold for five years and is expected to be the goalie of the future. What that means for Fleury is unknown, but as of now, the Golden Knights have $12 million on the books committed to two goalies.