Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who’s still recovering from season-ending ankle surgery in late March, has pulled out of next month’s World Cup of Hockey, Team Sweden announced today.
Former Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, will replace Lehner.
The Sabres expect Lehner, 25, to be their starting goalie in 2016-17 following a season in which he suffered a high right ankle sprain opening night and battled the injury all year. Rushing back to be Sweden’s No. 3 netminder wouldn’t have been prudent.
“As Robin continues to progress during the offseason in his rehab from last season’s ankle injury, he felt that it was best to withdraw from Team Sweden for the upcoming World Cup,” Sabres general manager Tim Murray said in a statement. “Robin felt it was important to continue rehab in Buffalo to prepare for training camp. He has been working out both on and off the ice and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with our team next month.”
Lehner missed three months before returning in January and playing 20 games. But the ankle still gave him pain, swelled and limited his movement. By mid-March, the Sabres yanked him from the lineup.
As the Sabres held their end-of-season meetings April 10, Lehner, fiery as always, said his training camp would start in two weeks and he planned to rehab in Buffalo all summer.
“It’s not going to be a fun period for me, but it’s for a good purpose,” he said then.
Lehner, who suffered a season-ending concussion Feb. 16, 2015 with the Ottawa Senators, will have only played 21 NHL games in a 20-month span by opening night.
The Sabres traded a first-round pick for Lehner in 2015.
Enroth, meanwhile, has other recent international experience, having led Sweden to the 2013 world championship before earning an Olympic roster spot for the 2014 Sochi Games.
“We really wanted to give Robin the opportunity to recover from his injury from last year but unfortunately it wasn’t enough time for him to feel 100 percent recovered,” Sweden GM Rikard Grönborg said in a statement. “With Jhonas, we do get an experienced goalie that we know he can win games.”
Henrik Lundqvist and Jacob Markstrom are Sweden’s top goalies.
The Sabres announced on Friday they have capped season tickets for the 2016-17 season at more than 16,000. The team said 97 percent of its season ticket holders renewed their seats.
More than 2,000 fans are on a waiting list for season tickets.
Former Sabres defenseman Mike Weber, who was traded to the Washington Capitals in February, signed a professional tryout with the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.