Aug 3, 2012, 5:44 PM EST
The Dallas Stars parted ways with limited backup Andrew Raycroft this summer, but the goaltending plan seems the same as the last two seasons: lots of Kari Lehtonen.
So far, that gamble has worked out better than many expected.
The Atlanta Thrashers selected Lehtonen second overall in 2002, and despite flashes of brilliance, he never really panned out. A fresh start with Dallas revealed why he was so promising in the first place, though.
After a solid first full season, Lehtonen quietly put up the best numbers of his career in 2011-12. The Finnish netminder went 32-22-4 with a strong .922 save percentage and 2.33 GAA.
Despite that great play, the Stars fell short of the playoffs and that campaign also spotlighted his biggest worry: his health.
Lehtonen was limited to 59 appearances last season, 10 fewer than in 2010-11.
Lehtonen missed a bit more than a month of action, which was a significant issue since the Stars didn’t really trust Raycroft. While incoming backup Richard Bachman showed some promise during that time, Dallas needs Lehtonen to pile up starts like a workhorse No. 1.
He’s been much healthier in Dallas, but his long-term history and last season’s groin injury inspires some concern.
- Isles’ Clutterbuck latest to be fined for diving 15
- No hearing scheduled for Kesler after ‘dirty play’ on Dorsett 21
- Why NHL fans — no matter where they live — should care about the plunging Canadian dollar 32
- Trade: Pens acquire Lapierre from Blues for Goc 62
- Video: Habs’ Emelin ejected for hit on Stars’ Spezza 30
- Martin Brodeur to retire, become Blues asst. GM (Updated) 41
- Mike Richards clears waivers 32
- Game on: Islanders-Rangers to be played despite storm 15
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang 57
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 17