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Lehner hopes to re-sign with Islanders

Goalie open to short-term contract, can become unrestricted free agent July 1

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Robin Lehner would prefer to re-sign with the New York Islanders before he can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The 27-year-old goalie, who went 25-13-5 with a 2.13 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and six shutouts this season, said he's open to a short-term contract.

"I hope something works out," Lehner said during NHL Awards Media Day on Tuesday. "I don't want to be anywhere else, but if that has to happen, it happens. It's not going to be from my side.

"I love my team. I have the mindset that this is still my team and I'm going to have it until the day I'm not on this team."

Lehner, who played this season on a one-year contract, is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given annually to the goalie voted the best at his position, and the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey. The 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone will be held on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN).

But Lehner seems more interested in finding out if he's going to remain with the Islanders.

"I've really enjoyed my time there and I want it to be a long time to come," Lehner said. "We'll see what happens. We really haven't started anything yet to be honest. It's been a long due diligence phase. I'm a special case. It's just the reality of things."

 

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Islanders coach Barry Trotz, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award (presented to the head coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success"), said he's confident the Islanders will re-sign Lehner.

"I don't want to speak out of turn or anything, I don't really know anything, but I know how he feels, I know how we feel and I think we're a good match for each other," Trotz said. "I understand him fully, he understands me fully and his teammates. We are building something pretty special on the island and I think he knows that and he wants to be a part of it. He's a reason that we've built something special."

General manager Lou Lamoriello was more succinct.

"We want him back," Lamoriello said.

Lehner revealed on the first day of training camp last September in a story he wrote for The Athletic that detailed his battle with depression and alcoholism that led to self-medication and suicidal thoughts.

He credited the Islanders, Trotz, his teammates and the fans for their support throughout the season. He said he remains sober and confident he can stay that way. 

"I can't diminish what this team and this organization has done for me because they've done a tremendous amount, being good human beings," Lehner said. "I like the people there. I love my teammates. I love the organization. So obviously, I want to be back."

Lehner admitted he's nervous about the free agency process, but he's trying to stay even-keeled.

"It's not fun going through this, especially a guy like me, but it's what it is," Lehner said. "It's just the reality of things. Would I wish we had something done right now? Sure, I would. But it's not and you've got to play the cards you're dealt.

"I know the team knows where I stand and I just hope something works out. … I just want to be a part of this team." 

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