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Robin Lehner denies he agreed to extension with Knights

Updated September 11, 2020 - 6:18 pm

Robin Lehner wants to focus on the present. But the goaltender’s future with the Golden Knights was at the forefront Friday.

Lehner denied a published report that he has agreed to a five-year extension with the Knights and called the speculation “annoying” before Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta.

Dallas leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.

“It’s not true,” Lehner said during a videoconference call with the media. “It’s kind of annoying. Here in the conference final and people are saying things they don’t know. It’s adding on to this thing that’s been going on here, you know?

“If it would have been finalized, it would’ve been finalized. But it’s not. I’m here to win a (Stanley) Cup, not discuss this stuff.”

The Fourth Period reported Lehner and the Knights have a deal in place with a $5 million average annual value through the 2024-25 season that will be signed after the postseason.

NHL insider Nick Kypreos also reported Wednesday on his “Real Kyper at Noon” show on YouTube that Lehner and the Knights agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal.

When asked about the report, the Knights said: “We don’t discuss rumors around contracts.”

Lehner’s agent, Craig Oster, did not return a voicemail seeking comment. Lehner, 29, is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

“Again, every team — I’ve had a lot of teams lately, obviously — you have some talks (about) kind of where you’re at, what you want to do,” Lehner said. “Nothing has been finalized.”

Lehner’s reported deal could signal the end of Marc-Andre Fleury’s time with the Knights. Fleury’s agent tweeted, then deleted, a picture of the goalie being stabbed through the back by a sword with coach Pete DeBoer’s last name inscribed on the blade before the conference semifinal series against Vancouver.

Fleury, 35, is under contract for two more seasons with a $7 million salary cap hit, and several teams appear to be in the market for a starting goaltender this offseason. He has a 10-team, no-trade clause.

The Knights are projected to have a little less than $5 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly.com, making it unlikely they can afford to keep both goaltenders.

Lehner was acquired by the Knights at the trade deadline in February from Chicago for backup goaltender Malcolm Subban, prospect Slava Demin and a 2020 second-round pick.

He supplanted the popular Fleury as the No. 1 goaltender in the postseason and helped the Knights to the conference finals.

In 14 appearances, Lehner is 9-5 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. He also leads the league with four shutouts.

“I mean, this is a very competitive team, you know?” Lehner said. “I think I said it before, I felt right away when I got here that this is a nonpolitics team. I’ve been on a lot of teams where inside politics (are) involved. I felt right away when I came here, this team is all about just winning. You deserve what you get.

“I think that’s what winning teams do. It hasn’t always been the case, so it’s refreshing when I got here and I felt that vibe and that culture around here. I had to work hard, and we’ve got two strong goaltenders, a really strong team, and you just do what the coach asks of you.”

Lehner was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender with the New York Islanders in 2018-19. He also won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy after going public with his battles with mental illness and alcoholism.

He signed a one-year, $5 million contract as a free agent with Chicago and went 19-10-1 with a 2.89 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 34 starts with the Knights and Blackhawks this season.

During his career, the 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Lehner has a record of 116-120-45 with a 2.72 GAA and .918 save percentage with the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Blackhawks and Knights.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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