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Lehner denies report he's agreed to contract with Golden Knights

Goalie can be free agent on Oct. 9, says he wants to keep his focus on Western Final vs. Stars

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

Robin Lehner denied he has agreed to a contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.

A report Friday said the goalie and Vegas agreed in June to a five-year, $25 million contract to be signed after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Yeah, well, it's not true," said Lehner, who can become an unrestricted free agent Oct. 9. "Again, I've, uh … Every team … I've been on a lot of teams lately obviously. You know, you have some talks and kind of [discuss] where you're at, what you want to do. Nothing has been finalized."

The Golden Knights are on the brink of being eliminated after losing to the Dallas Stars 2-1 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place on Saturday. Game 5 of the best-of-7 series is Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) in Edmonton, the hub city for the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final.

Lehner has started 15 of the 19 postseason games for Vegas, supplanting Marc-Andre Fleury as the No. 1 goalie.

"It's kind of annoying," Lehner said of the report by The Fourth Period. "We're here in the conference final, and people are saying things they don't know and just adding on to this thing that's been going on here. If it would have been finalized, it would have been finalized. But it's not. I'm here to win a Cup, not discuss this stuff."

Video: DAL@VGK, Gm2: Lehner shuts out Stars in Game 2

After five seasons with the Ottawa Senators and three with the Buffalo Sabres, Lehner signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders as a free agent July 3, 2018. He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the goalie voted best in the NHL, in 2018-19 after he was 25-13-5 with a 2.13 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and six shutouts.

He signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent July 1, 2019 and was 16-10-5 with a 3.01 GAA and .918 save percentage before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 24 and flipped to the Golden Knights later that day.

At the time, the Golden Knights framed the Lehner acquisition as support for Fleury, the face of the franchise who helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season of 2017-18. Fleury agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with Vegas on July 13, 2018, which runs through 2021-22.

Lehner was 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .940 save percentage in three starts for Vegas before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. In the postseason, he is 9-6-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and four shutouts. Fleury is 3-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA and .910 save percentage.

Lehner is 29. Fleury turns 36 on Nov. 28.

"It's a very competitive team," Lehner said. "You know, I think I said it before. I felt right away when I got here that this is a non-politics team. I've been in a lot of teams where there were inside politics involved, and I felt right away when I came here, this team is all about just winning and you [get what you deserve].

"That's what I think winning teams do, and it hasn't … always been in the case, so it's refreshing when I got here and I felt that vibe and that culture around here. I mean, I had to work hard, and we have two strong goaltenders, a really strong team. You just do what the coach asks of you."

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