Lehner left in the second period of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, appearing to favour his left leg after making a save on a shot by Mark Stone. He required assistance from a trainer to get to the bench.
“We were waiting for the MRI and waiting for a prognosis but you know with the symptoms and so forth, you had an idea what the injury was,” Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s not a complete surprise to get the results and to have that be the time frame.”
The Sabres acquired Lehner from the Senators on June 26 and were pretty much banking on him to be the man in goal. Unfortunately, he managed an injury on his first game back since suffering a concussion on February 16 in a game against Carolina. Talk about horrible luck.
The 24-year-old Swedish netminder was drafted by the Senators in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and has played in 87 career NHL games with a goals against average of 2.88 and a .914 save percentage with two shutouts.
And now the Sabres have to scramble, to put it mildly.
Chad Johnson is the backup and that’s a bit of a problem. The 29-year-old from Saskatoon is without a win in two NHL games, plus he has a 3.29 goals against average to go with a .875 save percentage.
The Sabres have called up 24-year-old Abbotsford native Nathan Lieuwen to serve as Johnson’s backup. Selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by Buffalo, Lieuwen saw a droplet of NHL action in 2014 when he made his first start on the road against the Calgary Flames in March of 2014. A concussion in April of 2014 ended his season.
22-year-old Linus Ullmark is also a possibility, but he’s seen such limited action that it’s hard to get a read on him He was drafted by the Sabres in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and stopped 38 of 39 shots in his North American debut with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, but that’s about it so far.
So yeah, the Lehner injury puts the Sabres in a tough spot. The upside is that they’ll get to take a look at their young goaltenders early on in the season. The downside is that there’s not a lot to like about the talent so far.