With the regular season over, it’s time for players around the league to be evaluated for their effectiveness and their value to a team. We’ll be doing the same thing throughout the month of May, and we’d love to hear your opinions on our grading.
We’ll travel through the team in numerical order this year and we’ll hit every individual that was on the roster as of Saturday April 27; the official end of the Stars season.
Perhaps the most well-known name on the Dallas Stars roster is Kari Lehtonen. The 29-year-old Finn has taken up residence between the pipes in Dallas for four years, and has made a name for himself with his dazzling saves.
At 19-years-old, Lehtonen was selected second overall in the 2002 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. In his five years with the Thrashers, he claimed nearly 100 wins; a record he’ll likely break with another season in Dallas. In 2010, Dallas took a serious gamble when the organization traded defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth round draft pick for the then severely injury prone Lehtonen. But joining the Stars roster has proven to be invaluable for both parties.
Despite struggling with his fair share of injuries last season, Lehtonen posted some of the best statistics of his NHL career, including a .922 save percentage and a 2.33 goals against average. In 59 games between the pipes, he closed 32 wins and spent almost 3,500 minutes in net.
This season took a dip for Lehtonen, however, as it did for much of the Stars roster, and he barely ended the season on a high note with 15 wins and 14 losses. He ended the season just shy of his save percentage from last season, and likely could have matched it had the season gone the distance. He struggled significantly in goals allowed against though, ending the season at 2.66. But more than highlighting Lentonen’s struggles, it highlighted the struggles the Stars faced on defense.
His incredible talent and overwhelming determination make Lehtonen one of the biggest assets on the Stars roster, and even in a down season, Lehtonen plays with an intensity and passion that makes it hard to assess his season on numbers alone. For that reason, and because he has long been the backbone of the Stars, I give Kari Lehtonen a B for the 2012-2013 season.
Goals Allowed: B
Save Percentage: C
On-ice presence and performance: A