Robin Lehner has maintained all along that he wants to remain with the Islanders as he approaches unrestricted free agency. President and general manager Lou Lamoriello has said he hopes to be able to re-sign the goalie.
And working out a contract extension with his current team apparently remained Lehner’s lone focus as the window for impending UFAs to talk to other teams opened Sunday.
“I’ve got no plans to talk to another team at this point,” Lehner told Newsday on Sunday. “From my understanding, that’s not Lou’s intention either. Hopefully, it will work out so we can finish what we have started.”
The free-agent market opens July 1. Lehner, coming off a one-year, $1.5 million deal, and captain Anders Lee, completing a four-year, $15 million pact, are among the Islanders’ impending UFAs.
Lee could be the second straight captain the Islanders lose to free agency after John Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million deal with the Maple Leafs last year. Lee said at a charity event in Manhattan on Saturday that he expects to enter the interview process and talk to other teams.
“You know what? I never thought we’d be to this point, but I guess it’s the nature of what this week means,” Lee said Saturday. “But that doesn’t change how I feel.
“There’s not really a day or a moment that I haven’t put my thoughts into everything. I hope it all works out. I haven’t enjoyed thinking about the other options.”
Lamoriello and Lee’s agent, Neil Sheehy, had a lengthy chat in the stands at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday on the second day of the NHL Draft.
Lehner and Lee are believed to be seeking longer contracts than Lamoriello is offering, with financial terms not necessarily the issue.
Lehner was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the top goalie, after setting a career high for wins with a 25-13-5 record and compiling a 2.13 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. He won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday night after detailing his battles with addiction and mental-health issues on the first day of training camp.
“Got to keep pushing, end the stigma,” Lehner said in concluding his acceptance speech. “I’m not ashamed to say I’m mentally ill. But that doesn’t mean mentally weak.”
Lehner also acknowledged in Las Vegas on Tuesday that his past troubles are a factor in the current negotiations.
Islanders forwards Valtteri Filppula and Tom Kuhnhackl and defensemen Luca Sbisa and Dennis Seidenberg are the team’s other impending UFAs. Forwards Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang are impending restricted free agents without arbitration rights. All have been extended qualifying offers.