Lehner looking forward to another season with the Sabres

Read what he had to say with The Instigators after signing his new contract

The Buffalo Sabres and goalie Robin Lehner have avoided arbitration with an agreement of terms on a one-year, $4 million dollar contract on Tuesday.

The 26-year old netminder put up some career numbers this past season in games played (59), wins (23), and shutouts (2). Lehner posted a 2.68 goals-against average in the 2016-17 season, while also producing a .920 save-percentage.

It had been speculated for a while that Lehner could ask anywhere near $5 million dollars in average annual value for his next deal. However, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill lands Lehner for a favorable $4 million deal over the one-year period.

When Lehner's contract expires next season, he will once again become a restricted free agent with the rights for arbitration.

Lehner was acquired by the Sabres, along with David Legwand, at the 2015 NHL Draft from the Ottawa Senators for a first round pick. Since joining the Sabres in 2015, Lehner has called Buffalo home and wants to be part of what is to come for the team.

“I want to be in Buffalo,” Lehner said with Andrew Peters and Martin Biron on The Instigators on Tuesday. “I like this city and I want to keep building with this team. There’s a lot of potential here and I want to be a part of it.”

While Lehner would’ve liked a long-term deal to establish his future with the Sabres, he is fine with the one-year deal he signed for next season. Lehner expressed his confident in his goaltending abilities and his confidence in one day being a full-time starter in the National Hockey League. 

“I’ll take it year-by-year and focus on the season,” said Lehner. “I just want to keep getting better.”

This offseason has been filled with changes and new additions to the Sabres organization. Tim Murray, who acquired Lehner two years ago, was fired as the general manager along with head coach, Dan Bylsma. Now, it is Botterill who takes over at general manager and he has already filled out a good amount of his staff. This includes the hiring of head coach Phil Housley, who Lehner knows will being a more solid defensive structure to the Sabres' system. 

“I talked to Jason and Phil, and I’m very excited about where the direction of the team is going,” Lehner said. “Phil is very defensive minded, so we talked about that a lot.”

One of the only members of the Sabres coaching staff to return from the last couple of seasons is goaltending coach Andrew Allen. Allen has worked with Lehner ever since he was brought in by Bylsma before the start of the 2015-16 season. Lehner is very much looking forward to working with Allen for another year, and appreciates all he does for his game.

“I’m very happy Andrew is still here,” said Lehner. “We work very well together and he has helped my game.”

Lehner is well aware of the struggles the Sabres went through last season and knows that it was a disappointing season for everyone in the locker room. This season, he wants the Sabres to improve both on a personal level and as a team. He says that they have to play better for the city of Buffalo and the fans. 

“Team success can lead to personal success here,” said Lehner. “It’s like a puzzle, it has a lot of pieces that need to be in place and I think piece by piece we’re getting better.”

You can listen to Lehner's full interview with The Instigators below:

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