Fantasy Impact: The Chicago Blackhawks have signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a one-year contract worth $5 million.
The Blackhawks get: a goaltender in his prime coming off a William Jennings-winning elite season in which he posted a 0.930 SV% in 46 games and carried his team into the second round of the playoffs. He has overcome some injuries as well as personal demons to put together a full, healthy and productive season (he also won the Bill Masterton).
Fantasy Players Impacted: This is a weird one. Lehner's careen in the NHL was in jeopardy a year ago and he has the season of his life, not only earning a starting job somewhere, but earning a multi-year deal. Instead, he walks away from a Carolina offer (whatever that was) and chose to bet on himself. Again. A one-year deal is telling the world that he believes in himself and he believes that last year was no fluke. Chicago has Corey Crawford signed for one more year at $6 million and Collin Delia for three years at $1 million per season. Delia can be sent to the AHL without clearing waivers, so that is what will happen this year.
Given the salary situation, Lehner will get the same workload that he did last year. If Crawford runs into concussion problems again, then Lehner's workload will obviously increase. Lehner is a very good goaltender who has his act together. This contract is a bold statement that he truly believes in himself and that he will earn an even better contract next summer. I tend to believe him. That being said, Chicago isn't coached by Barry Trotz. So a great season for Lehner won't be a 0.930 season. But it will still be a good one – but that's 'relatively speaking'. Think 0.918 as a SV% on this team (Crawford and Delia each were at 0.908 last year).
If Crawford performs poorly, which judging by his late-season surge – he won't, then Lehner will be given an extension. If Crawford st