If there was any doubt about how much faith the Dallas Stars have in Kari Lehtonen, the club proved it beyond question today when they agreed to terms with the 26-year-old Finnish netminder on a three-year contract extension worth $10.65 million ($3.55 million per year average)
While there are always personnel changes from one season to the next, the Stars in 2010-11 are destined to be quite different, with perhaps the biggest lineup alteration being the departure of 10-year veteran goaltender Marty Turco as a free agent. That means Lehtonen, who was acquired in a trade with Atlanta on Feb. 9, will be counted upon to carry the load as the number one man between the pipes.
Lehtonen shone for the Stars down the stretch, demonstrating just how good he can be if he’s in tip-top shape and remains healthy. Over the final 14 games, of which he started nine, Lehtonen sparkled, fashioning a 6-3-0 mark, including his 100th career victory, with a 2.44 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
"We’ve had a long tradition here of having premium goaltenders,” Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. “Marty Turco has been a solid goaltender here for over a decade now and has done great things on and off the ice. But I just felt for the long-term success of our franchise, we needed to acquire Kari Lehtonen. I think the way he played in the last 10-12 games, his performance showed that with a good summer of training, we hope that he can be an elite goaltender once again like he was early in his career.
“We’re moving forward with Kari. I just felt it was time we went in a different direction.”
I liked the trade when it happened, and thought it was inevitable that this would happen sooner or later, but I am glad it was sooner. I like his size and commitment to stay in the crease and not try and do too much extra. I think that the structure of the contract helps us with the ownership situation and cap issues in the present, but will not hamper us in the future either.
Who else is left as RFA? Neal and Grossman I am aware of, am I leaving anyone else out? And does it mean anything that Lehtonen was the first of the group of RFAs to get resigned, or am I reading too much into this?
I wouldn't mind seeing both Niskanen and Brunnstrom back (after Neal gets signed, of course - hurry the **** up, Joe, I'm getting impatient ), and then maybe they can shop Daley and/or Skrastins at the draft for a pick or something.
If you're telekinetic and you know it, clap my hands!
Meh. It's not entirely his fault, but he likely won't reach his potential here in Dallas. He was lost in a numbers game on the wings, and for various reasons, not the least of which was his hand-shake deal with management at the time of signing to not go to the minors, Brunnstrom found himself on the outside looking in.
I really hope he goes somewhere and has a good NHL career because I think he still can. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but he would look great next to Crosby. Yes, I know, a lot of players would, but the difference is that Fabian will be extremely cheap with considerable upside if he does pan out.
Risky signing for you guys and I compare the Lehtonen situation to the LeClaire one we have in Ottawa. Two talented netminders that are always hurt and need to find consistancy...
If need be we have an ECHLer who can come up and get hot for us if Kari goes down. If Elliot can do it, maybe Bachman can.
I like giving him 10 mil over 3 years especially the way the contract is structured. Better than the 10 mil Vancouver will be giving Lou next year.
LeClaire did have a tough year no doubt, but what bad luck. Going to be straight with ya, Lehtonen does have more size and more talent than Leclaire. I feel like the Stars are getting him at the right age. He's more mature and will hopefully make the commitment to working harder this offseason to be in better physical shape to handle the rigours of a long season. He knows he has something to prove as a 2nd overall pick in 2002. And, the guy has won a division crown for the Atlanta Trashers; not many goalies will ever be able to say that. He's got upside, now he needs a little luck.
He has been awful, but he will be an absolute bargain no doubt. I don't mind keeping all the young RFA's, it's not going to cost us anymore than it did this year...ship the cash from Brunnstrom to the Real Deal and call it a done deal. I could see Brunnstrom and Ott being great wingers alongside Jamie Benn; two guys who aren't afraid to mix it up. Though Niskanen and Brunnstrom have been the 2 weaker players of the 4 RFAs, I don't see Dallas giving up these young talents with the current cap/ownership sitch.