NHL Rumors: Golden Knights goalie hunting with Robin Lehner out for season

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Jun 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (90) makes a save against Montreal Canadiens during the third period in game four of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights are in a bind after learning goaltender Robin Lehner will have surgery to repair his hip. All indications at this time have him likely to miss the 2022-23 season, the team announced Thursday.

Lehner, 31, has 3 years remaining on his contract. The entirety of his $5 million cap hit will be placed on LTIR.

So what will the Golden Knights do now?

The 2022-23 season is a critical season for GM Kelly McCrimmon as he looks to have the Knights bounce back. It was tumultuous campaign in 2021-22, which saw Peter DeBoer get fired at season’s end. He was quickly replaced by Bruce Cassidy indicating Vegas’ Stanley Cup ambitions still remain in place.

NHL Rumors: Robin Lehner out for the season

The injury bug is nothing new for the Golden Knights or Robin Lehner, who both missed the playoffs last season. Lehner had season-ending shoulder surgery in April. It was his second such procedure with the previous occurring in May of 2021.

Lehner competed in 44 games for the Golden Knights in 2021-22, posting a 23-17-2 record with a 2.83 GAA, .907 SV%, and one shutout.

The former second round pick of the Ottawa Senators in the 2009 draft, has a career mark of 152-141-49. He amassed those numbers playing with additional stops on the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks.

Last year’s backup Laurent Brossoit also had offseason surgery and made not be ready to start come October. That leaves Vegas desperately looking for goaltending help in a bare market.

Goalie targets for the Golden Knights

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Feb 5, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) looks to block an attempted shot by the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Locher/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas goalie prospect, Logan Thompson was signed to a three-year contract in January. The 25 year-old played 19 games for them last season and posted a 10-5-3 record with a 2.68 GAA, and .914 SV%. Those are solid numbers, but not likely enough for Vegas to go ahead with him as their number one.

Brossoit, 29, was fine as a backup to Lehner. His 10-9-3 record with a subpar SV% of .895 likely won’t cut it either as an everyday starter.

So what can the Golden Knights do? When it comes to unsigned free agent netminders there isn’t much.

Cory Schneider represents the best possible option. However, the 36 year-old was bought out by the New Jersey Devils at the end of 2020 and played 1 game for the Islanders last season, recording a win while stopping 27 of 30.

That’s why it may look like a trade is the best option to fill the hole left by Lehner. Let’s look at some interesting options.

Jonathan Quick: The 36 year-old is now second fiddle on the L.A. Kings to Cal Petersen. He has one year left on a deal that pays $5.8 million and would be the perfect guy to lead the veteran Knights. He posted a 23-13-9 record with a GAA 2.59, and a .910 SV% proving he’s still got it.

Jake Allen: Montreal has made the 32 year-old back up available and his $2.875 cap hit for one more year is perfect. The Habs were horrible last year, but Allen posted a respectable .905 SV% and a 3.05 GAA under duress.

Joonas Korpisalo: The 28 year-old was once considered #1 goalie material until Elvis Merzlekins came along in Columbus. He signed a one-year deal for $1.3 million this summer and may thrive with a heavier workload.