UPDATE II: Lehtonen traded to Dallas

Here is my story on the Lehtonen trade:

Kari Lehtonen will play another NHL game – it just won’t be for the Thrashers.

The Thrashers traded the goaltender, recovering from two off-season back surgeries, to Dallas on Tuesday for defensive prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth-round draft pick this year.

Lehtonen, 26, is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played (204), wins (94), save percentage (.912) and shutouts (14). He is also the single-season record holder for games (68), minutes (3,934), wins (34), shutouts (4) – all set in 2006-07 – and save percentage (.916, 2007-08). He finished his Thrashers career with a 94-83-17 record and a 2.87 goals-against average.

After returning from a two-week conditioning stint at AHL Chicago on Sunday, Lehtonen practiced with the team on Monday and Tuesday. He was scheduled to accompany the team to Denver for Wednesday’s game against the Avalanche, but did not make the trip.

With the Thrashers carrying three goaltenders, the play of Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavelec made Lehtonen the odd man out, according to Thrashers general manager Don Waddell.

“As the season went on, we had two guys that proved they were capable of carrying the load,” Waddell said. “ … One hundred percent (Hedberg and Pavelec) are doing a good job for us.”

Lehtonen required surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in July. In October, he had a second surgery to remove edges of bone that were applying pressure to nerve roots in two locations in his back. He has not played an NHL game since April 11, 2009.

For his part, Lehtonen said he believed he was NHL-ready after this minor-league stint. He went 1-2-2 with a .899 save percentage and 2.67 goals-against average in four starts for Chicago.

“The first couple of games over there were pretty tough,” Lehtonen said. “They got a lot better and I feel really good. We got what we needed from it. … [Playing an NHL game] is going to be different, but I think I’m ready to take that next step.”

Waddell said several teams scouted Lehtonen during his AHL stint, wanting to see if the goaltender was fully recovered. In the end, he said, Dallas made the best offer.

Getting Lehtonen into NHL games, while the team is in a playoff race, was also a reason the deal. The trade comes before Friday’s NHL roster freeze for the two-week Olympic break.

“We were obviously in a situation where we had three goaltenders,” Waddell said. “We were afraid if we went into the Olympic break it was going to be hard to get Kari back in [to play games]. This was something that made the most sense.”

Lehtonen can become a restricted free agent on July 1.

The trade for Lehtonen, a first-round pick in 2002 (No. 2 overall), comes five days after the Thrashers traded Ilya Kovalchuk, a first-round pick in 2001 (No. 1 overall).

“Kari Lehtonen is a proven elite goaltender,” Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk told the team’s Web site. “We are very excited to add him to our hockey club.”

Vishnevskiy currently plays for the AHL’s Texas Stars and is considered a top prospect. The first-round pick in 2006 by Dallas (No. 27 overall), turns 22 in eight days. He made his NHL debut last season, appearing in three games with two assists. He played two December games with the Stars this season and has appeared in 51 AHL games for Texas with 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists).

The 6-foot, 195-pounder is a native of Barnaul, Russia. He played most of last season with AHL Peoria, scoring 19 points (six goals, 13 assists). The three previous seasons he played for Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Vishnevskiy led all QMJHL rookie defensemen in scoring in 2005-06 with 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists). Vishnevskiy was assigned to AHL Chicago following the trade.

“He’s got great upside, plus we have another draft pick in the basket,” Waddell said.

Original blog:

This blog comes to you from the plane before departing for Denver.

Only real news to come out of this morning’s practice is that defenseman Boris Valabik did indeed suffer a torn ACL in his left knee. He was placed on injured reserve today. The plan is wait several days for the swelling to go down before scheduling surgery.

At practice today, Niclas Bergfors and Evander Kane were working with the power-play unit. Coach John Anderson said he would like them to get a little more practice before getting into a game on the special team but “if I see we need a little spark, I will put them in.”

Here is Anderson on the importance of this road trip:

“We were just talking to the team, our goal on this trip is to get into the playoffs (position) before the break That’s going to be our goal. I think it’s pretty realistic. I think we’ll need four or five points. We’ve got some tough teams to play but if we play as a team … we are moving in the right direction and I think we can do it.

“If you don’t set goals, you end up wandering around. I’m trying to set bars for us. We’ve got to make the playoffs. That’s the bottom line.”

Line combinations remained the same. Slava Kozlov skated on the line with Marty Reasoner, Chris Thorburn and Eric Boulton.

I shall report in from Denver at tomorrow morning’s sate.

118 comments Add your comment

J.B.

February 9th, 2010
1:40 pm

what’s the over/under on Kari being on the team plane when it lands back in Atlanta on Sunday?

kracker

February 9th, 2010
2:29 pm

Looks like mgmt. is thinking the same as we are: Four more games before the TD. Three this week and the fourth is on March 2nd after the O break. In the playoffs or out? Buyers or sellers? Well, a playoff caliber team will get the necessary points this week but I don’t know if they can do it. COL, MIN and CHI are a combined 40 games over 500.

Two points tomorrow will be HUGE!! One is good, zero is unthinkable. The players know the score and at least they’ve finally had time for a few practices to work on the new team.

GSUFan

February 9th, 2010
2:41 pm

Excellent! From what I saw on Saturday night, there is a spark. DW said it at the Townhall. If you think these boys have given up, you’re wrong. I see it, and I think if they take advantage before the break and end up with 4-6 (I think they can win all of the road trip games, but let’s just start with one, right?) points we’ll be in good shape

TheFan79

February 9th, 2010
2:47 pm

At least win 2 out of 3 .

Russ

February 9th, 2010
2:51 pm

I’d be very happy with 3 pts. in the next three games considering the opponents.

Jack

February 9th, 2010
3:02 pm

J.B. I believe its -400 for kari to on a differnt plane. My guess is either Dallas or St. Louis. Not sure how good he is but Koci for the avs broke his hand, so he may not play against us

StateBird

February 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

I’m with Russ. I’d be pleasantly surprised if we ended up with 3 pts out of this trip. I see a strong chance that we end up with 0.

Lee

February 9th, 2010
3:21 pm

C’mon guys, get as many points as possible. 0 points is unacceptable.

Old Time Hockey

February 9th, 2010
4:40 pm

Kari will miss the plane while waiting for his order of 6 Cinnabons at the airport.

mike

February 9th, 2010
4:48 pm

the best news is according to levenson no matter what happened 0 point from this three games or 0 point from next 82 games DW still going to be GM. no one can do this job like he. thrashers just blessed to have saint donny.

Brendan

February 9th, 2010
4:49 pm

I think everyone wants Atlanta to land all six points. But way more important than those points are the Thrashers having a GM who has a PLAN moving forward. We are now in the post-Kovalchuk/Savard/Kaberle/Heatley-Hossa era. And we simply must develop a new strategy or “concept.” I recommend the “depth strategy.” And if not that, try the Brian Burke model. But do try “something.”

Before this season began, I had the Colorado Avalanche game circled on my calender. I’ll tell you why. In the previous draft, Colorado picked one draft position ahead of us. Like many fans, I expected them to be in the tank, poised for a return to the lottery draft. Obviously, I was wrong about that assertion. I freely admit being wrong about that assertion. But still, it remains in my mind that Colorado would be a great chance to see how we stack up against a team that was in the same boat we were, last June.

That’s still true. Let’s see how we fair. I figured, during the offseason, that we’d know if we were a playoff team or not by now. I did. That was my thought process. Right now, I cannot tell you if Atlanta is or isn’t a playoff team. But when I circled this game on the calendar, I also had this thought in mind.

Ready? Okay, I thought we’d be a little higher than we are right now in the standings. And I thought that if the Thrashers lost this game vs. the Avalanche … that it would show that we’re still not capable of banking points against LESSER opposition. That’s not the situation today. Today, the Avalanche are seen as a good team, a playoff team, and now … winning this game would show that we are headed towards the playoffs.

I really cannot stress how important the Avalanche game really is.

Mike

February 9th, 2010
4:57 pm

Ok with boris tearing the ACL, are we looking at him missing a full season or at least the majority of next year? If so, then I say, sign Kubina now for 2 years if the cost is good. Then we could have Kubina, Enstrom, Oyuda, Bogo, Hainsey, Kulda as our top 6. Then Schubert can be #7 until Boris is healthy again. Hopefully management will be proactive and look to resign Kubina soon.

Lee

February 9th, 2010
6:29 pm

Lehtonen, Valabik, Schubert…….wait, what is wrong with Schubert?

Farel

February 9th, 2010
6:41 pm

I really think we are still in this! The playoff race is tight and we need to start getting some points. My hope is we keep going with the energy we have right now and some of the other teams go on the skids like we did earlier. Practice looked good today. Energy was high and the guys were focused. GO THRASHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris Vivlamore

February 9th, 2010
7:53 pm

I am hearing more than rumblings that Kari Lehtonen has been traded to Dallas. He didn’t accompany team to Denver. An annoucement could come tonight or tomorrow.

Waddells a Skunk

February 9th, 2010
8:11 pm

Why would Waddell the Skunk trade Kari for a defenseman? Can’t he at least get a young offensive forward or high draft pick?
Waddell the Skunk the is at it again….

Alan R.

February 9th, 2010
8:11 pm

Hopefully sooner rather than later.

ESG

February 9th, 2010
8:11 pm

Wow. I knew this was going to happen, but I don’t think this was the right decision. Kari is a world class goalie and Pavelec is only back-up quality. Huge downgrade.

kracker

February 9th, 2010
8:11 pm

WOW!!! I hope these guys have a plan for another goalie. I don’t think Pavs and Moose can do it down the stretch.

Puckstoppa

February 9th, 2010
8:15 pm

Vishnevskiy? The guy has played 5 NHL games according to hockeydb.com.

That’s a terrible deal.

Dr. R

February 9th, 2010
8:16 pm

Forgive me if it’s been written already, but it sucks to be a) a Thrashers fan, and b) an AirTran ad exec. Everybody who does one of their ads gets traded.

Buzz

February 9th, 2010
8:16 pm

Why add another D-man? SOMEONE HAS TO SCORE! Waddell you totally suck.

Brunnstrom or Neal (I wish) better be coming back if we trade away a #2 pick (and starting goalie)

Native Atantan

February 9th, 2010
8:18 pm

The Thrashers need to leave town and stop taking up space in one of our arenas. This is crap.

Lee

February 9th, 2010
8:19 pm

Dude, this guy sucks! Ok, Ya, Lehtonen is almost always injured, but still…this is ridonkulous!

kracker

February 9th, 2010
8:19 pm

Where is Atantan?

Native Atantan

February 9th, 2010
8:20 pm

Hockey is a fags game.

Buzz

February 9th, 2010
8:20 pm

I am not joking, but Waddell is trading for a D-man that has only scored ONE GOAL … and it was against his OWN TEAM! He must be related to Waddell … they are both universally hated in their locker rooms.

Lee

February 9th, 2010
8:21 pm

I think it makes sense to trade a goalie for a goalie? Don’t you think? Or, at least another scorer, but a defenseman??????????? Ugh, IDIOTS!

Native Atantan

February 9th, 2010
8:22 pm

Real men don’t skate.

Native Atantan

February 9th, 2010
8:24 pm

They play football.

Native Atantan

February 9th, 2010
8:24 pm

It’s time for you pansy asses to leave town.

BG33Brown(LAC=Loser)

February 9th, 2010
8:26 pm

Native, learn how to spell first and then get back to us. Then go drive your pickup truck across a dirt field and talk about dukes of hazzard.

Native Atantan

February 9th, 2010
8:27 pm

I’ll do just that and that dirt field might just be your front yard.

Lee

February 9th, 2010
8:28 pm

They’ve already left town.

Native Atantan

February 9th, 2010
8:29 pm

Yankee go home.

johndd1

February 9th, 2010
8:30 pm

From CBSsportsline.com “…Vishnevskiy is definitely one of the Stars’ top prospects and a developing two-way player…”
4 goals and 9 assists in 33 AHL games.
And “Buzz”, he has only played in two NHL games, so dont hold that “only 1 goal” against him.
If that is the deal, I suppose like it.
Besides, Vish is probably better than anyone this franchise will draft in the 1st round…gotta get our talent from somewhere, right?

BG33Brown

February 9th, 2010
8:30 pm

According to hockeyfutures.com he is the #1 prospect in the Dallas Stars system. If so, that is a great pick up for a goalie who resembles the stay puff marshmellow.

A fluid skater, Vishnevskiy has all the offensive tools to become a powerplay quarterback in the NHL. He’s undersized and only average in his own end, two things that will work against him at the professional level. However, he has the vision and skill set that enable him to be a great puck-mover. Reads plays well and has the skating ability to stay in the play defensively, but isn’t consistent enough in that regard. Needs to figure out a way to handle power forwards effectively.

Lee

February 9th, 2010
8:32 pm

Psh, I don’t want future, I want now!!!!

Sage of Bluesland

February 9th, 2010
8:32 pm

Well, so ends the saga of the glass-groined wunderkind–who Donny took with the 2nd pick of the draft overall way back in 2002…and blustered about getting the player he wanted all along.

I wanted Rick Nash–and several here will attest to that statement (i.e. Brendan)–and said that drafting the soft Euroteen was a mistake and nothing but a much-needed play for time. It worked magnificently, as all we heard was “Just you wait until this kid makes it to the show!”…

(and before an ignorant person states that “Nash went first and we couldn’t have drafted him”, I suggest you research the deal which took place between Florida and Columbus with the 1st and 3rd picks that year–it will be interesting to see who wins the ‘race’ for being a bigger buffoon than our own Donny!)

Just another frittered lottery pick from our fraud of a GM. Wow, that was on the better side of almost 10 years ago! Simply amazing that our blustering, bumbling, little promise-maker/breaker still has a job doing anything but cleaning toilets at the arena…

(but, then again, Donny’s true medium is in waste-disposal…the stories of him and his port-a-potty business are legendary in Michigan…)

czechmate

February 9th, 2010
8:44 pm

There have been rumblings for the last few years about how badly Waddell needs to go. This is proof positive. I understand he’s not the only one calling the shots (the issues the owners are causing would take a whole ‘nother blog!). But for crying out loud! At this point in time, he sure is the common denominator! We’ve been through how many players? How many coaches? This sh*t’s gotta stop rolling downhill sometime!

One thing is clear, Kovy didn’t want to be a part of this team b/c he doesn’t think we can win. So far, he’s right. I don’t blame him for not wanting to waste his best years in Atlanta if the GM can’t manage to build a team that can make it to the playoffs but one time in a decade! And I’m inclined to completely disregard that one time… can we say swept?

Reason he didn’t trade a goalie for a goalie is probably b/c he’s hoping to pick one up in the draft pick. Maybe if all the fans who attend the games hold up signs demanding Waddell’s dismissal, they’ll cave to the pressure. I mean, it’s not like they need anymore bad press…

Bob

February 9th, 2010
8:47 pm

this reeks of a salary dump. Why dump Lehtonen now? You invested a #2 overall pick in him, and he just came back from the surgeries. Why not see how he does? Pavelec isn’t ready yet. Moose isn’t a true #1. WTF are they doing?

Lee

February 9th, 2010
8:53 pm

Go on Waddell, trade the rest of the team too! “Hey Winnepeg! Your kinda far North, long way from home, I might get homesick.” Nah………

Lee

February 9th, 2010
8:55 pm

They might as well give Kari to the Stars, Ivan just takes up roster space.

LAC

February 9th, 2010
8:55 pm

Hey brown33 What do you say we meet and I will clean your clock and diaper ? Can you man up for that “tough” guy ? If anyone on this blog is a bigger GOOF that you I’d like to see who.

So pick a place & time… I’ll show, How about you ?

czechmate

February 9th, 2010
8:55 pm

I just have to say… please don’t let Mr. Native Atantan sour your opinion of the rest of us. I’m a native Atlantan (note my spelling, Mr. Atantan) and I wouldn’t claim him as a fellow native if I had to. I personally think he’s posing… he shows absolutely no sign of the southern hospitality that’s born and bred into us!

But back to hockey… I’ll pit my weakest hockey D-man against your best football D-man ANY day. I know many of you must be both football and hockey fans. But even you guys have to admit, football players ain’t got nothin’ on hockey!

kracker

February 9th, 2010
8:56 pm

Calm down, everybody, at least for tonight. I think there’s more moves to come so let’s see what happens. Ivan Vish may be coveted by another GM, perhaps in a pkg deal, etc. Or maybe he is being acquired by the Thrash a depth/future asset for a player you have decided is no longer an asset. After all, Vishnevskiy was a late 1st rounder and is rated as a top prospect in the Dallas system and appears to be close to NHL ready. Last time I looked, Dallas has a pretty good system.

Matt the Brave

February 9th, 2010
8:57 pm

Again, starting for your Kansas City Thrashers….

geez. When is Don Waddel going to be fired? We have great picks every year, and we do mostly crap with them. We’re the Montreal Expos and/or the Baltimore Orioles for the NHL. Great talent that gets traded away because of our measely payroll and get crap in return.

Smoothie

February 9th, 2010
8:57 pm

Maybe the deal is for Brunnstrom. Nothing official yet, perhaps its just rumor of a “high” prospect?

Wishful thinking I suppose. But as long as Dealin’ Donnie aint done after this, I’m willing to reserve judgment.

Mike

February 9th, 2010
8:58 pm

Wow. I wonder if the players really don’t have confidence in Kari and that is why we aren’t using him over the next 3 games. While I know we need all the points we can get before the break and putting a goalie coming off an injury may not be the best idea, I have to think they could get more if Kari was showcased a bit.

I also have a bad feeling that Kari is going to stay healthy in Dallas and he is finally going to show why he was a #2 pick. Goalies take awhile to develop so I kind of hate to see him go. Plus, (1) I’m not sure why we need another defenseman (unless we are going to flip him with someone else for a forward) and (2) I am still not sold on Pavs.

Tim Tebow's Tears

February 9th, 2010
8:58 pm

Lehtonen won’t get us to the promised land. You never draft goalies high in the draft. I’ve been calling for him to be traded for a couple years now