Apr 27, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) waits for play to begin against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Lehtonen gives up the game winning goal to center Nick Bonino (not pictured). The Ducks defeated the Stars 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kari Lehtonen: Dallas Stars Season Ending Report Cards

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The weekend is here! Hope all of you reading this had a good sleep-in and if you didn’t, you’re up with me! Hey, the early bird catches the worm though, right?

My next boring (but more entertaining stuff is on the way so keep the faith) report card is on #32, Kari Lehtonen:

Kari Lehtonen had another astonishing performance in his 5th season in Dallas and turned many heads, though his postseason showing was a different story.

Season recap:

Kari Lehtonen performed exquisitely this season, making it his 5th season in a row with spectacular numbers while in a Dallas jersey. The 30 year old from Finland finished his regular season with a record of 33-20-10 along with a .919 SV% and a 2.41 GAA. And there’s not much more I can say regarding goalies…

Except for the details of his season! Kari Lehtonen hammered home 65 starts this past season, the most out of any NHL goalie on the year. Basically, the only time he wasn’t in was when he was tagged with a lower body injury that sat him for 5 1/2 games or Erik Haula head-butting his skull into the crossbar and handing him a serious head wound that also caused a 3 1/2 game absence with a mild concussion. So he was on the ice a LOT. And wow, for a goalie to be forced to take that many starts due to the lack of hope in the backup on a team that’s playoff hopes were hanging in the balance, those are some OUTSTANDING numbers. But from Kari’s miscellaneous of comedic acts, such as sitting on top of his net in Calgary watching Tyler Seguin do work and pull off a hatty, to knocking Patric Hornqvist on his rear to prove he doesn’t nothing from no one, to kick saving like a spider monkey (thanks Razor) to force OT on Colorado, to a 47/50 save performance against the Blackhawks at the Madhouse, to 3 shutouts on the year against Edmonton, PITTSBURGH, and St. Louis which turned out to be the Stars’ playoff clinching game, it was an eventful and stellar year for the Big Fin.

Playoff recap:

Here’s where Lehtonen’s road always seems to fork. Back when he was a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, he appeared in 2 playoff games, both ending in losses, and Kari finishing with 11 goals allowed along with a .849 SV% and a 5.59 GAA.

Looking to put that road behind him in his most recent postseason showing, he didn’t necessarily succeed. Starting all 6 games for the Stars, he pulled a win out in Games 3 and 4, but the rest is history. Lehtonen ended up single-handedly giving away Game 1 and 2, both in which the Stars outplayed Anaheim, especially Game 2 where they outshot the Ducks 36-19 but still lost 3-2. His valiant efforts came in a 37 save Game 3 shutout and a solid performance in Game 4. But after that came a Game 5 situation where he was pulled after allowing 5 goals and Game 6 where he handed 2 goals over in the final 2:10 and blew the 2 goal lead the Stars had built, and then gave up an early OT goal in front of a saddened and sobbing home crowd. He finished his playoffs with a 2-4 record along with a .885 SV% and a 3.47 GAA.

Getting better, I guess?

Contract situation:

Kari Lehtonen’s contract was set to expire after the lockout season, but before the shortened season began the Stars, seeing potential in the big guy, signed him to a 5 year extension. This means that the Big Fin will be in Dallas through the 2017-2018 season, barring any moves by the front office (wow, I might have grandkids by then.. Lord, I hope not. Regardless, it’s a long time away). He will earn $6,250,000 in the coming season until his salary decreases to $6,000,000 for 2 years, eventually leaving him at $5,000,000 for his potential last year as a Star. But nonetheless, don’t dwell on the future, live in the NOW, people!

In my opinion:

At the end of the regular season, I had in mind that Kari was the new franchise tag and I thanked the heavens we had him in the grasp of a multi-year deal. But after standing in the AAC for Game 6 and having my heart sink lower than it ever has, my mind was left to wander and wrestle with the ultimate question that faced every Stars’ fan… Should Kari Lehtonen remain in Dallas?

I have yet to answer this question, but feel as though I am making giant strides towards formulating my final, overall response, so I actually and truthfully have no response to this question (Josh doesn’t have an opinion? Somebody call DC, I think the world is ready to melt). But if you have your responses, please feel free to let me know how you feel in the comments! Will Kari Lehtonen be the guy to carry us to the Cup? I just don’t know yet…

The bottom line on Kari Lehtonen:

Kari Lehtonen has performed tremendously during his tenure as a Dallas Star, but as soon as his name was called in the postseason, he wasn’t able to lead the Boys From Big D to Lord Stanley, nonetheless the second round.

The Stars are looking for a backup goalie in the offseason to come and will need to determine their starter for next season by early July. Will this be Lehtonen? Most likely, but I’m not 100% sure.

They could keep him. The guy has done wonders for the team and been at the top of the NHL leaderboards for the last couple of seasons. The fans love him and he could very well be a helpful push in the drive to the Cup, that’s why they would sign him to such a large contract. He fits in Dallas and looks like he’s ready for some payback next season.

They could also trade him. There are many teams that will be looking for someone of Lehtonen’s caliber this coming offseason and they will be offering big names, including big goalie names, to pick him up. The Stars could deal him and get a fresh start, or even pick up Ryan Miller in the FA tab and make Lehtonen into an A+ backup.

We just don’t know yet, and I don’t even know how I feel on the situation, but I will get back to you very soon on my final argument.

Please leave comments below on how you feel and GO STARS

 

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