New York Islanders: Isles should give Robin Lehner a contract similar to Auston Matthews’

New York Islanders. Robin Lehner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
New York Islanders. Robin Lehner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders are eventually going to have to make a decision about Robin Lehner and when/if to re-sign him. However, the Auston Matthews contract with the Leafs opens the door for Lehner to do something similar.

The New York Islanders are a team on the rise and in his first year with the team, Robin Lehner is proving to everybody why he should be part of the rise.

The Islanders goaltender is having a spectacular season. At the time of this writing, he leads the league in GAA and spent a lot of time leading the league in save percentage. If not for splitting time with fellow solid goalie Thomas Greiss, he would be up there in wins.

However, the biggest dilemma with Lehner is not if the Islanders should re-sign him. It is becoming more apparent as this magical run the team is one continues that they should.

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But rather the dilemma is what they should pay him. That is where the new Auston Matthews contract comes in. The terms of the deal are complicated, and any following instance is going to have to vary by team.

But the deal is basically this. It is not for a long-time year wise only five. The deal is more leaning towards signing bonuses, not salary.

Basically, it is a lot of money per season over a shorter time as opposed to a less money per season for a longer time.

A lot of money in a quick window as opposed to a long-term deal and a higher bonus is something the Isles should look into giving Lehner to make him want to stay.

This is where the similarities and differences start to accumulate, though. Auston Matthews is just 21 years old. So, once the five years is up, he would still be able to try to negotiate with a team to have his next contract be longer instead.

Lehner is already 27 years old, and that is on goalie time. So, he might be looking for more years and stability as opposed to money.

Matthew is a forward and Lehner is a goalie. However, the value to each of their teams is similar. While Matthews is very valuable to the Maple Leafs, Lehner has been almost just as valuable to the Islanders.

Also, Matthews was forced to take a deal like this because the Maple Leafs have players like John Tavares, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. All great players who have gotten those lengthy deals or will.

The Islanders are fortunate enough to not have many long-term deals like that. Josh Bailey‘s long-term contract is incredibly team friendly for someone who is a top six forward.

So, what the Islanders should try to do is guarantee Lehner the money. After all, this is Lehner’s first season where he has truly been elite. We all remember his story about his new-found sobriety and how the Isles are changing his life.

Lehner and the Islanders and this coaching staff, shout out to you Mitch Korn, might just be a match made in heaven.

So, what Lehner should do is something similar to Matthews. Yeah, Lehner has been on a tear, but it might be too risky to give him anything upwards of three years with a lot to prove and aging.

The highest average deal for a goalie in the NHL is Carey Price in Montreal at $10.5M, but he signed on for eight years. Lehner is great but is not at Price’s level. But, that average could be what convinces Lehner to take fewer years.

Another issue is the contract Mikko Koskinen just got with the Oilers. He got three years with an average of $4.5M. Koskinen is already 30 years old.

So, that set the market pretty high for goalies for about a week until the Matthews deal. Now, the Islanders should try to agree to give something that meets in the middle of the deal Edmonton gave their goalie and the Leafs gave Matthews.

Take the three-year part, and offer Lehner more money as a signing bonus, but way more than $4.5M because he is worth more. Perhaps something around the $8-12M range so he is still highly paid amongst goalies.

The guys over at Eyes on Isles wrote about Mathew Barzal could now get a contract similar to the one Matthews got.

But, it is way too soon to begin discussing extending Barzal. While that is important, the Islanders have other players to re-sign first.

One of those issues is going to be Anders Lee. Lee could walk at the end of this season. If they lose their captain and a player of Lee’s caliber, then having a great goalie might not even matter.

But, by giving Lehner a shorter deal, they could use the rest of the money and the slot to give Anders Lee an extension. The Islanders could lock up Lee for the eight years, give or take, and then still keep Lehner.

Down the road, that could allow them to keep Barzal. If Lehner gets paid handsomely, but for a short amount of time, that is a win-win for the team and player. That could allow him to get off the books for Barzal sooner rather than later.

Eventually, the Islanders are going to get some goalie prospects up like an Ilya Sorokin in a few seasons beyond Lehner.

This way, it allows the potential for the Islanders to be able to keep Lee and Barzal long-term, who are the building blocks.

All the while Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, Keiffer Bellows, Devon Toews, Michael Dal Colle, etc. could be the rest foundation while still coming cheap.

Although there is no way of knowing how all of this could work out, after all, I am not a general manager, based on the trends and a team like the Leafs who are finding loopholes to keep all their talent, a deal like this could work for Lehner.

It could open up the goalie market too while not hurting the Islanders with a long-term salary. Getting Lehner to accept a short-term deal in what could very well be his last chance to cash out might be difficult, but he could still salvage a lot of money before he hits age 31.

The Islanders are going to have decisions to make. They are lucky they have some prospects banked, money to spend, and a world-class general manager.

dark. Next. FInd out why the Isles took top spot in the latest EWB Power Rankings

The Islanders might not be able to keep everyone, but the market is wide open to try to keep the ones they know they should.