A bombshell hit the trade market early yesterday morning, as Buffalo Sabres number one goalie Robin Lehner requested a trade, demanding that his team move him before the deadline.
As it all took place just a few days after Lehner had mentioned his desire to stay in Buffalo... Things seemed to have changed drastically.
"You follow it a little bit," Lehner said to the Buffalo News. "We play in a pretty great league. Whether I stay here or go some place else, it's what it is but I'm definitely not looking at that. I feel like I'm putting in work and doing my best. We'll see what the future holds."
"I think when we're clicking and we're all playing the way we can, I think it looks good," Lehner said. "We've just all got to be on the same page and get that consistency. I don't give up. I have full trust in the guys and I don't like to give up. I don't like to bail out."
Now, Lehner will see how drastically things can change, as Sabres fans are outraged by his attitude. On social media, the poor netminder was brutally harassed by the team's fanbase, as several people did want to see him leave Buffalo. And they would have settled for the smallest of return, instead of keeping a guy who does not want to be on board with the club.
This is getting ugly fast... Fans did not hold back on their displeasure to see Lehner still part of the Sabres club. Now, Lehner’s situation is getting quite tricky for the Sabres as, if he dares to demand a contract extension in Buffalo, he is expected to seek a hefty raise. Instead of getting into an arbitration fight, general manager Jason Botterill could decide to trade him before July.
However, the Sabres will have to be confident enough in young goalie Linus Ullmark to step up as their starter. They could also move Lehner and hope to land a veteran backup netminder to mentor Ullmark.
The New York Islanders and the Calgary Flames were recently said to be looking to add in between the pipes. The Flames have been struggling due to injuries and the Islanders need a boost in net to become a true contender. The Flames placed goalie Mike Smith on the injured reserve as one of their four roster moves that have taken place on Saturday.
Smith has been out with a lower-body injury since getting hurt in a game against the New York Islanders earlier this month. He was injured on Feb. 11 in the final seconds of a victory over the Isles as he had made 23 saves in the game before leaving with just under two seconds remaining.
However, Smith, who has registered a 23-16-6 record with a .921 save percentage and 2.53 goals against average in 47 games this year, could bounce back and the Flames could focus on other needs this summer, while the Islanders will need to figure out a better solution for their goaltending duo. However, Lehner might not fit the bill as the best solution for the Isles, still focused on re-sign captain John Tavares before the summer.
But Lehner will definitely feel less welcomed in Buffalo...