Dallas Stars: Can They Count on Kari Lehtonen in 2012-13?

Mitchell KlempContributor IIAugust 2, 2012

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 10: Goalie Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars has his skates worked on before the start of the first period of a hockey game at the American Airlines Center on March 10, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
Brandon Wade/Getty Images

Goalie Kari Lehtonen has shown improvement every season he has been with the Dallas Stars. The problem is that the sample size is pretty small since he is only 140 starts into his career.

It is always hard to project results with only two seasons worth of games, but there is a rough idea of what the Stars can expect from Lehtonen.

In the last two seasons, Lehtonen has finished the season with 34 and 32 wins, which ranked 12th in the NHL both years.

Between his first and second seasons as a starter, he was able to raise his save percentage by .08 and shave off .22 from his goals against average. That’s proof that the improvement is there, and both of those stats were in the league’s top 10 last year.

The question is which of those two versions of Lehtonen is the real one? It is possible he is somewhere in between.

Based off of his play last season—when the supporting cast seemed to be worse than the year before—it would seem that the better stats and overall play are closer to his true form.

The one thing Lehtonen did show last season was that he could be counted on to not lose many games, but he also could not be counted on to win games for the Stars either; meaning that he could plateau as simply a sturdy option.

Many times throughout last season, Lehtonen wasn’t able to hold on down the stretch late in games. A lot of that was due to the lack of defensive play from his teammates in front of him. He also was rarely given a large lead to play with, and the offensive struggles put extra pressure on the net-minder.

Lehtonen is the type of goalie who will give you great production. He hovers around the top of the second tier in comparison to the rest of the league.

On that same side of the coin, he won’t single-handedly win you games or lose you games. He is definitely a solid option in net, and if the other pieces around him improve, the Stars can be serious contenders.

Even with his short time with the Stars, there is no option other than to trust Lehtonen. The Stars don’t have a choice, so whether you love him or hate him, he is the only one that can be counted on.



Contact Mitch Klemp at MitchKlemp@yahoo.com and follow him on twitter @MeestaMitch