Apr 27, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) faces the Anaheim Ducks attack during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars Goalie Situation: A Corner Turned

Good morning, Stars fans! I hope your Tuesday is going good, and if not, maybe this article will lighten the mood.

The Stars Improved Goalie Situation:

When Jim Nill took over the Stars organization in April 2013, the first thing on his mind was a short term rebuild that would beef the team up enough to enter the postseason and drag some attention back to Dallas hockey. He began with the Stars offense, as we all know, by acquiring the sharpshooter Tyler Seguin who, in the long run, proved to be one of the most influential and valuable centers in the league, even at the age of 22. He then brought in Shawn Horcoff to help strengthen the 3rd and 4th line dots. He also signed Sergei Gonchar to pull the defense out of a seemingly inescapable black hole that the Stars old defense had been stuck in for the last 5 or 6 years. The thing that most people probably don’t remember through the fog of distraction that the Tyler Seguin trade induced is Nill’s backup goalie decision last July. Jim decided to take a rather unnoted leap and sign a former Dallas Star and ex-Carolina Hurricane Dan Ellis to fill in the backup position. That didn’t last long as we all know… But the Stars backup goalie problems have been clearly imminent since Kari Lehtonen played back up to the late, great Marty Turco. And that was only a short 4 seasons ago (catch the sarcasm cause I tried to lay it on pretty thick). But since then we’ve seen some REALLY pathetic attempts to fill the necessary void. Who remembers Andrew Raycroft? The guy who played a short two seasons after the Turco era ended and Lehtonen took the reins at starter. He ended his two seasons with a 10-13-0 record, with a .905 SV% which isn’t too horrible, but it came along with a 3.10 GAA, which turned many noses in the opposite direction. He left the Stars to go play minor league for a year and announced retirement this past April. Does the name Richard Bachman ring a bell? Well, Bachman mainly filled in as the Stars’ backup during the lockout season, though he did share a few games with Raycroft in the 2011-12 season. During the lockout year, Bachman showed himself to be somewhat worthy towards the end of the season, especially when he won against San Jose and put the Stars back in a wild card spot that was soon lost out on… But we won’t go there, live in the now. Bachman’s career in Big D ended with a 14-10-1 record, a .901 SV% and a 2.94 GAA, which were all three average. But when Nill stepped in, he knew that change was needed if the Stars were to succeed and therefore did not offer Bachman a new contract. He was later signed by Edmonton and now plays for their farm club. But once Nill saw how bad the Stars goalie situation was, he was somewhat determined to put a stop to it. So enter stage right Dan Ellis. The 34 year old (he did not look that old) played his short season in Dallas and once again contributed to the Stars curse. He pulled off a 5-6-0 record that was accompanied by a .900 SV% and a 3.04 GAA with his only stellar performance being a shutout against the Anaheim Ducks (see y’all in October). So, with this inaccuracy, Nill decided to try and pull a quick fix and trade Ellis for Tim Thomas. Not the best idea Nill has ever thought of. Thomas did almost identical to the departed Dan Ellis, and finished with a 2-4-1 record, a .902 SV% and a 2.97 GAA. There’s not much more to say, unless we want to talk about his short playoff appearance that ended with a quick goal handed over to Corey Perry. So, you could only think that Nill was frustrated these last few months when he had to turn Kari into a work horse and start him for the more games than an other NHL goalie had to. If he had a strong rock holding up the back, he would be able to give Kari a well-deserved rest after the constant onslaught the Stars netminder receives due to the fact of a lacking defense. Well Nill hit a gold mine this past July 1st, as he always finds a way to. Nill signed Anders Lindback, the free agent from Tampa Bay that used to start for both the Lightning and the Predators, where he found major success. This past season he was moved down to backup with Tampa Bay and really struggled due to it. But he seemed to of found his new place and a new start with Dallas. Lindback will be backing up Kari Lehtonen this coming season, and Lindy Ruff will be able to breath a sigh of relief knowing that he now has a BACKUP. But Nill also made a move last night in signing former Toronto Maple Leafs and Marlies goalie Jussi Rynnas. Rynnas played in the Finnish Liiga last year and had a stellar season, finishing as one of the top three goalies in the league for the year. Rynnas will most likely find his home on the Texas Stars if Nilstorp finds a new deal from another team, though he hasn’t received any bites yet. Either way, this is exciting. The Stars “rags to riches” story in the crease is a truly hopeful one and Nill is serious about contending this year. Lindback will need to help prove that the Stars crease is a force to be reckoned with and that you’ll have to go to the end of your rope if you want to send a puck to the twine. Nill knew that he needed to update the crease, and after one year, it looks as though he has finished the deed. This netminding situation will be fun to watch next year, along with this entire team as a whole. 92 days till Chicago. Comments and/or questions below and as always, GO STARS!

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Tags: Analysis Anders Lindback Dallas Stars Free Agent Future Kari Lehtonen NHL Offseason

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