Jason Botterill said he’s hoping to sign Robin Lehner to a new contract during the next month. The goaltender’s arbitration hearing will serve as a motivating factor.
Lehner was one of three Sabres to file for arbitration Wednesday, joining defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and forward Johan Larsson. Hearings for the restricted free agents will be held July 20 to Aug. 4 in Toronto – if they’re held at all.
Last season, 25 players filed for arbitration. All but one signed before the hearings, and Colorado and Tyson Barrie worked out a deal before the arbiter ruled on their case.
This year, 30 players filed before Wednesday’s deadline. Others include Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary and Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck. Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons and Evan Rodrigues were eligible to file but did not.
Lehner is among those in line for a significant pay raise. He went 23-26-8 last season with a .920 save percentage, which ranked 12th in the NHL.
He made $3.15 million, which equals the qualifying offer submitted by the Sabres last month. There are 25 goalies scheduled to make at least $4 million next season, including 16 who will earn at least $5 million.
"We’re looking forward to trying to find a way to get a contract done with him and move forward on the season,” Botterill, the Sabres’ general manager, said Friday. "I certainly have a firm belief that we’ll get something done here over the next month or so."
Botterill acquired Beaulieu from Montreal last month. The 24-year-old finished a two-year, $2 million deal and has a $1 million qualifying offer. He had four goals and 28 points while skating 19:28 per night with the Canadiens.
Larsson played just 36 games last season after dislocating his elbow and wrist Dec. 31. He had six goals and 11 points while serving as the Sabres’ checking-line center.
The 25-year-old made $950,000 on a one-year deal. He has a $997,500 qualifying offer.
NHL teams may also elect to take players to arbitration. The deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday.