The 2017-18 Philadelphia Flyers were far from a perfect team. There wasn’t one clear problem that Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol could have corrected to make this team a true contender. However, an argument can be made that the easiest correction to vastly improve the Flyers would be adding goalies who are consistent and healthy.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Orange and Black allowed 2,448 shots against in all situations last season, which was the fifth-lowest amount across the entire NHL. Unfortunately, the 236 goals against was tied for 14th in the league and their overall save percentage of .904 was 22nd. Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth were fine at 5-on-5 play, but both goalies struggled while trying to stop the puck when the Flyers were shorthanded. Whether Elliott’s .816 penalty kill save percentage or Neuvirth’s .810 were more their faults or the penalty kill’s fault, Robin Lehner, who the Buffalo Sabres neglected to offer a qualifying offer earlier this week, managed to post an .886 save percentage while his team was down a man or two. On top of that, Lehner saw a higher total of expected goals against while shorthanded than either Elliott or Neuvirth, so it’s not as if Buffalo was padding the netminder’s numbers in this type of situation.
These numbers came when Lehner had a pretty bad year statistically, as he went 14-26-9 with a .908 save percentage and 3.01 goals against average. He did, however, also have three shutouts, which was how many the Flyers had as a team. Lehner has also played in 53 games or more in each of the last two seasons, something that if Elliott or Neuvirth did this season would have prevented the Flyers from relying heavily on Alex Lyon or Petr Mrazek down the stretch. Perhaps a change of scenery and a one-year deal to prove he still has it causes Lehner to post numbers similar to what he had in 2015-16 and 2016-17?
On the other hand, maybe Hextall brings Lehner into the mix, is unable to move Elliott or Neuvirth, and the Flyers’ goaltending situation becomes even more of a headache. He could become another goalie that is unable to make a single, solitary save while the Flyers are killing penalties and his numbers dip even further. Also, Lehner has a bit of an injury past as well. He missed 33 games in 2014-15 with a concussion as well as 39 games in 2015-16 with a lower-body injury.
With free agency starting on Sunday, there are other more important roles for Hextall to fill. However, he does have some money to spend and this isn’t a long-term solution that would put the team in a cap crisis. So that brings us to this: is Lehner an option that could realistically improve the Flyers’ current goaltending situation at an affordable price?
Should the Flyers sign Robin Lehner?
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