Having smartly navigated the game of politics last season, Robin Lehner enters this season without any competition for the backup goaltender job in the NHL. The 2013-2014 season will be the last year of Lehner's entry-level contract after which he is a restricted free agent. So what can we expect from him this season?
Lehner had a spectacular season in all levels of hockey with save percentages of 93.8% in 31 AHL games and 93.6% in 12 NHL games. He has a career save percentage of 92.5% in 25 NHL games, which is pretty good right?The young Swede is certainly trending in the right direction and the club is going to give him every chance to become a star.
What's the plan for Lehner this season? Unless Craig Anderson completely falters or is injured, it is likely Lehner won't see more than 25 to 30 games even if he outplays Anderson. Anderson had a pretty amazing season himself but he will be feeling the full force of player 40's hunt. The average save percentage in the NHL last season was 91.2% but it was 91.6% among goalies that played at least 30 games.
The coming season will give the clearest indication of where Lehner is at in his development as he will likely double the number of NHL games he has played. It is very unlikely that Lehner will post a 93.6 save % again as only Brian Elliott, Tim Thomas, Dominik Hasek and Corey Schneider have ever done that in at least 30 games.
Is Lehner better than an average goaltender? Probably. But how much better is he?
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