The Panda Era Is Over

After a spirited game that saw Robin Lehner lead the Mustangs to victory against the St. Louis Spartans in a shootout, the goalie was dealt away.
by Matt Burch | February 9, 2022, 3:17 PM ET

With expansion looming and the Mustangs holding two non-exempt goaltenders, the writing was on the wall: either Calgary keeps two and loses one, or trade one for something they can keep. Now that the dust has settled, we now have the answer: the Panda Era in Calgary has come to an end!

Prior to the Lehner trade, the Mustangs sent the injured and often under-achieving Reilly Smith to the Brno Barons. Smith was another likely victim of expansion, as he would have been another target for an expansion team. In return for Smith, Calgary obtained bottom 6 forward Valterri Filpulla and a second round pick. Filpulla has announced his retirement at the end of this season, so this will be his last "hurrah" as a player.

"Smith was a right winger, and it really hamstrung us having so many right wingers and nobody who can play the left side," said GM Matt Burch, "Filpulla can play left wing, center, and right wing. I think he can round out our bottom six well, especially when Brad Richardson returns".

After the Reilly Smith move, that all but solidified the fact that either Nedeljkovic or Lehner were going to be expansion fodder. So far this season, Alex Nedeljkovic has looked like a future starter, while Robin Lehner has struggled from time to time. The rumor was Robin was being actively shopped after week one, and the trade talks just ramped up as it looked like Calgary was oscillating between the 7th to 10th position in the standings, and the majority of games lost were with Lehner in net.

Editor's Note - This story sat in the drafts for a while, so clearly this article is not what one would consider "evergreen", but it DOES give me a chance to update you on the results of this trade:

Ned has sucked and is now injured, with the Mustangs all but throwing in the towel on a playoff berth, and Lehner has looked great with the Schooners, posting a .917 save percentage and a 10-2-0 record. Moral of the story? Trade with Eric if you want to look bad, but I think we all already knew that! (lol emoji)

Good luck, Panda!

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