It started to come out this morning and by this afternoon it was confirmed. The Dallas Stars signed goalie Kari Lehtonen to a new 3 year extension, signaling the start of the Lehtonen era as the goaltender for Dallas. The new deal is now widely reported to pay the 26-year old Lehtonen an average of 3.55 million per year. So now the Stars have their goalie, now the question turns to what to do with the defense or who to move to try and improve it.
It is known that GM Nieuwendyk is a fan of Kari’s talents. He is a tall goalie at 6’4″ but his movement and athletic abilities have impressed at times in his career. Coming off of two back injuries and falling out of favor in Atlanta to Pavelec, he did show some signs of his potential after a couple games this season. In his 10 games since the Stars traded for him, he went 6-4 with a 2.81 GAA and .911 save percentage. Not impressive really, but he was playing with a defense that at times had as many holes as a slice of Swiss cheese.
What I do like is the winning record and the save percentage. He should that once he gets used to playing every night he could take on a big number of shots some nights while keeping the team within the game. He went 5-2 to end the season, showing that he can get this team wins. His play and the changes in the defense may be the biggest factors in what the Stars can do next season. If he puts together a good off-season and comes back continuing to improve on what we saw to end the season, this team may only need a couple changes to be a playoff team. They have the offense, just needs a little tweaking and some work on the power-play. Now maybe they have the goalie. The defense, well that may be the hard part.