Aug 3, 2012, 5:44 PM EDT
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.
- Marchand: If Bruins miss playoffs, ‘this is going to be a much different group next year’ 14
- Is Lecavalier offering to retire early to facilitate trade out of Philly? 22
- Hextall insists he’s ‘on the same page’ with Snider 14
- Krejci ‘probable’ to return versus Ducks 10
- Flyers announce Simmonds, MacDonald done for the season with injuries 18
- Video: Flyers crush Blackhawks, Voracek joins league lead in points 11
- Report: Draft Lottery to be held on Apr. 18 13
- Sens tell fans to stop throwing hamburgers 35
- NHL confirms working with Isles, Leddy regarding Twitter threats (Updated) 16
- Snider: Patience is ‘great with the kids,’ but not with ‘the team we have on the ice’ 11
- Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’ (73)
- Red Wings beat Blues in OT, but should winning goal count? (56)
- Tank-worthy? Connor McDavid finishes OHL season with 120 points in 47 games (56)
- Report: No fine or suspension for Tyler Toffoli’s hit on Alex Burrows (51)
- Dubnyk leads Wild past Isles in SO, earns 10th straight road win (43)