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Penguins May Pursue Golden Knights’ Robin Lehner [Report]

While many Penguins fans hoped to get Marc-Andre Fleury back, a report suggests they should instead look at his teammate Robin Lehner.

When the Vegas Golden Knights announced that they had acquired Robin Lehner at the 2020 trade deadline, many took notice as it was a move no one seemed to be expecting given that they already had a capable starting goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury. Shortly after, some drama ensued as rumors swirled that the Golden Knights had agreed on a five-year contract, though nothing was official. This caused hockey agent Allan Walsh, who represents Fleury, to create and post a picture on Twitter of his client being stabbed in the back by a sword.

As you can imagine, plenty of stories came out from this and it seemed to be a near guarantee that the Golden Knights would move on from Fleury, especially after it was confirmed they had agreed to a five-year, $25 million with Lehner. Many speculated that perhaps Fleury would return to Pittsburgh, where he spent the first 13 seasons of his career. However, after reportedly being offered next to nothing for the now 36-year-old, in large part due to his contract, general manager George McPhee said he would be sticking with the duo for the 2020-21 season.

Related: What’s Delaying the Inevitable Duncan Keith Trade to Oilers

Different Goalie on the Move

The decision to keep Fleury appears to have been a genius move by McPhee, as he had arguably the best season of his NHL career and was rewarded with his first ever Vezina Trophy. The Golden Knights were able to make it work this year with these two in net despite their cap hit combining for $12 million, but given how tight they were and continue to remain to the leagues salary cap, it seems likely they move on from one of them, and one Penguins reporter thinks that may be Lehner

Mark Madden, who is a well known sports commentator in Pittsburgh, suggested in a column on TribLive.Com that the Penguins may look to get involved in trading for Lehner. Madden mentions that while most fans thought and hoped they would wait one more season and sign Fleury as a free agent, Lehner may be the better option due to his younger age as well as his team friendly contract.

Robin Lehner Marc-Andre Fleury Golden Knights Upper Deck
Robin Lehner Marc-Andre Fleury Golden Knights Upper Deck

Lehner, 29, has been able to really turn his career around since coming forward about his struggles with mental health and substance abuse. Over the past three seasons he has been able to establish himself as a bonafide number one starter in the league and is well worth the contract he has. He was only able to start 19 games this season due to injury as well as Fleury’s fantastic play, but nonetheless was very solid when called upon with a 2.29 goals against average (GAA) and a .913 save percentage (SV%), as well as a 13-4-2 record.

On the other hand, there is Fleury, who as mentioned, has just one season remaining on his deal. It is hard to imagine that he will receive a raise from his current cap hit of $7 million given his age, but he did just win the Vezina. The question now remains how long he can maintain this high level of play, something that you can bet is going through McPhee’s mind.

Penguins in Desperate Need

As for the Penguins, they need a goalie, whether it be Fleury, Lehner, or anyone else available. After allowing Fleury to be exposed in the expansion draft in favor of Matt Murray, things have gone bad in the Penguins’ crease. Murray was never able to regain his form which saw him win two Stanley Cups, and as a result was traded to the Ottawa Senators to make room for Tristan Jarry. That move also didn’t work at as hoped, as Jarry struggled throughout this past season, particularly in the playoffs where he posted a 3.18 GAA and a .888 SV% in six games.

The Penguins aren’t set to get much cap relief at all this offseason, though they would have enough to bring in Lehner if it meant moving Jarry’s contract. Of course, Lehner wouldn’t come cheap and the Penguins would have to give up something up significance if they wanted to bring him in, but the possibility is certainly there. This is really the first Lehner’s name has been brought up in terms of a trade, so it is hard to say whether or not it is a real rumor going around or just pure speculation. Either way, it makes sense for both sides and is definitely something both could and should consider.

Next: Predators Looking at One More Trade Ahead of Expansion Draft

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