The Vegas Golden Knights are suddenly without a goalie. The team announced today that Robin Lehner will miss the entire 2022-23 season after determining that he will require hip surgery. No timeline for his recovery has been given yet, other than the fact he is no longer an option for the rapidly-approaching campaign.
This news follows Lehner’s previous shoulder surgery in May, which ended his season early. At the time, there were reports that he was dealing with multiple issues, including a serious hip injury, though the decision to have another procedure was certainly not expected at this point in the offseason. The Golden Knights, who have made several cap moves this summer including shedding Max Pacioretty’s deal for no return, are now basically down to Logan Thompson as a realistic NHL option.
Laurent Brossoit, the team’s backup that was signed to a two-year, $4.65M contract before last season, also underwent hip surgery earlier this year and is not guaranteed to be ready for the start of the year. Thompson and Michael Hutchinson are the only two other netminders in the organization with any NHL experience.
While it means that Lehner’s contract can be moved to long-term injured reserve, something the Golden Knights were already using after acquiring Shea Weber’s contract, there are now just two months left to the start of the season, and not a lot of capable starting options available. Thompson had a late-season breakout this year with a .914 save percentage in 19 appearances but the undrafted netminder’s career experience to just 20 NHL games. There’s no telling how he would react to carrying the starter’s load for a whole year, even if he has performed admirably in the minor leagues.
The question for Lehner now becomes whether or not his career will continue after this lost season, as major hip surgeries can often derail a goaltender’s performance even after they are medically cleared to return.