With labor talks still going on a a lockout looming in the future, the Dallas Stars wasted no time resigning their starting goaltender. They extended Kari Lehtonen to a 5 year, $29.5M contract ($5.9M AAV).
Lehtonen is a very solid goaltender who has secured the starting position in Dallas. He put up a 34-24-0 record last season with a 2.55GAA and a .914SV%. His wins, GAA, and SV% were all career highs. Though he put up strong numbers, the Stars missed the playoffs last season
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk spoke on Lehtonen saying, “Kari Lehtonen has worked extremely hard in his time with the Dallas Stars to establish himself as an elite goaltender in the NHL. We believe that his best days as a goaltender are ahead, and that his work ethic and leadership will help guide this team into a perennial Stanley Cup contender.”
The Stars have been busy this off season trading away Mike Ribeiro, signing Jaromir Jagr, and now resigning Lehtonen. Hopefully these additions along with a more mature defensive core including Alex Goligoski, Aaron Rome, and Stephane Robidas behind Lehtonen will lead them into the playoffs.
Lehtonen will help the Stars’ young and talented goaltending prospect Jack Campbell over the next few years. Expect Campbell to play a few years in the AHL to get more experience before backing up Lehtonen. This situation is very similar to how Tampa Bay is handling their star goaltending prospect Dustin Tokarski. We may see Lehtonen and Campbell fighting for the starting job a few years down the line.
Can Lehtonen build from last year’s success to lead the Stars into the playoffs.
More to Come..
Follow me on Twitter for exclusive news & content!