REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — On Thursday, the Vegas Golden Knights announced that goaltender Robin Lehner needs hip surgery and will likely miss the upcoming season.
The 31-year-old Lehner has three years left on his contract, with a $5 million annual cap hit, and will spend most or all of the 2022-2023 season on long-term injured reserve. The group stated that they do not have a projected time frame for his recovery at this time.
During the offseason, he also had shoulder surgery.
Last year, Lehner started 44 games for the Golden Knights and posted a 23-17-2 record. In his National Hockey League career, he went 152-141-49 with a.917 save percentage. Twice, while playing for the New York Islanders and the Vegas Golden Knights, he was named the NHL’s Most Valuable Player and awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy.
Lehner denied both upper- and lower-body injuries during the Golden Knights’ late-season slump that kept them out of the playoff picture for the first time since their 2017 expansion.
On April 20, Lehner was benched in favor of rookie Logan Thompson in the middle of the first period of a 4-3 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals. This would be Lehner’s final game of the 2016–17 regular season. Former head coach Peter DeBoer claimed the change was made to inject new life into the squad and set a new tone.
However, on April 22nd, reports surfaced that Lehner agreed to season-ending surgery due to an undisclosed lower-body injury sustained on March 8th in Philadelphia, leaving Vegas’s playoff hopes in tatters.
Lehner backed up Thompson in a game on April 24 against the San Jose Sharks despite missing three straight practices.
DeBoer apologized for his assessment of Lehner less than two weeks before he was let go, when he said the 12-year veteran looked uncomfortable in net during a road trip in Canada.
Since the status of backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit is also up in the air following hip surgery over the offseason, the Golden Knights may have to start the season with a combination of Thompson and journeyman Michael Hutchinson in net.
As the AHL’s best goaltender in 2019, Thompson made 19 appearances for the Golden Knights last year, posting a 10-5-3 record and a.914 save percentage.
Hutchinson has played for 137 games over the course of his career, posting a record of 55-55-15 with a 2.79 goals against average and a.905 save percentage.
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