Blackhawks trade Robin Lehner to Golden Knights in last-second deadline blockbuster

Hawks GM Stan Bowman dealt the pending free agent goaltender on a Monday afternoon.

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Robin Lehner’s red-hot start to his Blackhawks tenure had cooled off in recent weeks.

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ST. LOUIS — Not long after he seemed on track to cement himself as the Blackhawks’ long-term starting goaltender, Robin Lehner is no longer a Hawks goalie at all.

The pending free agent and high-profile netminder was traded Monday to the Golden Knights, joining Erik Gustafsson as the two Hawks players traded on deadline day.

Hawks general manager Stan Bowman received a package of a second-round draft pick, goaltender Malcolm Subban and prospect defenseman Slava Demin in return.

The deal ends Lehner’s Chicago tenure after an eventful, fanbase-rallying but ultimately short-lived eight months.

Lehner departs the Hawks with a 16-10-5 record and .918 save percentage, but that decent-looking stat line is the combination of two distinctly different stretches.

Up until Jan. 19, he was 15-7-4 with a .924 save percentage and one of the best goals-saved-above-average stats in the league, which takes into account the consistently high quality and danger of shots against he faced behind the porous Hawks defense.

In his final five starts in red and black, though, he went just 1-3-1 with an .888 save percentage, and his typically outspoken, room-filling personality retreated into a shell.

Lehner had to be requested to speak after his final start, a 6-3 loss to the Rangers last Wednesday in which he allowed five third-period goals, and declined interviews Friday.

Always vibrant on social media, though, Lehner tweeted a heartfelt update Monday afternoon shortly after the announcement:

The Hawks will now operate with longtime starter Corey Crawford, temporarily displaced from the No. 1 role by Lehner, back in a big workload.

Subban, part of the return package, could become Crawford’s temporary backup; the 26-year-old goalie has made 20-plus appearances each of the past three seasons in Vegas. But he’s a pending restricted free agent who has struggled mightily this year, sporting an .890 save percentage, so he may not be part of the Hawks’ long-term plans.

The Hawks also have Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen in the AHL who could be promoted to NHL backup.

Demin, the prospect the Hawks are getting back, is a 2018 fourth-round selection who has spent the past two seasons playing alongside top Hawks prospect Ian Mitchell at the University of Denver.

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