The World Cup of Hockey is quickly approaching, but a former Ottawa Senators goaltender isn’t going to be participating after all.
Robin Lehner has dropped out of the tournament and won’t be representing Team Sweden alongside his former teammate Erik Karlsson.
Henrik Lundqvist, Jacob Markstrom, and Jhonas Enroth will be the goaltenders on the Team Sweden roster.
Lehner struggled with injuries last season, hurting his ankle in the opening game for the Buffalo Sabres, coincidentally against the Senators. That ankle is still giving him problems, forcing his removal from this tournament.
He didn’t play again until the middle of January, and ended up making 20 more appearances until the injury forced him to miss the last 11 games of the season.
If he’s fully healthy, he’s presumably the number one option in the crease for Buffalo, but the lingering ankle problem is alarming for the Sabres.
Although dropping out of an international tournament is undoubtedly difficult, Lehner is doing the right thing.
While representing your country at the highest level is extremely rewarding, a player’s health should take priority over an optional tournament like this.
Lehner never developed into the franchise goaltender that his most optimistic supporters thought he would in Ottawa, especially after his great 2012-2013 season.
He finished 13th in voting for the Calder Trophy with a .936 save percentage and 2.20 goals against average in 12 starts.
It was a promising beginning to his career in Ottawa, but his numbers dipped in the next couple seasons and he was traded to Buffalo before the 2015-2016 season.
Lehner is certainly talented, and if he can stay healthy, he could be a solid option in net for a division rival.
He’s 6’5’’ with nice lateral quickness in the crease. Although his legacy in Ottawa may boil down to management choosing to keep him over Ben Bishop, there’s no reason that Lehner can’t have a solid tenure in Buffalo.
He’ll continue rehabbing that ankle for next season, and hopefully he will be healthy enough to participate in numerous Senators/Sabres games this season.