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

Reggie Dunlop

February 10th, 2010
9:57 am

Can we just go ahead with hiring THE HANSON BROTHERS at this point?

Jim n Buckhead

February 10th, 2010
11:18 am

Wow….first there was Damian….and now Kari….. how can one team miss on so many goal tenders…while also losing all their best players….if anyone knows what Waddell is doing then let me know

hotrod

February 10th, 2010
11:22 am

It had to happen. I wish Kari well. He had (has?) one of the best gloves I have ever seen. His injuries and rehabs just wore thin though.

There is something about the Moose/Pavs dynamic that is keeping the Thrashers hanging around a playoff chance.No need to disrupt that. I am with Waddell on this move.

We got a few new faces this past week. If one of the new guys gives us a Peverley like suprise, it may get interesting.

Spotlite on coaching now.

Jack

February 10th, 2010
11:28 am

niity unfortunately would not come here, the only team he beats consistently is the thrashers.Hopefully moose will stay i dont have faith in pavelec. He does not move post to post very quickly.

Barry

February 10th, 2010
11:35 am

You guys are funny for calling for Waddell’s head for trading Kari for a top defenseman prospect. Kari wasn’t going to be able to take this team anywhere. The team doesn’t trust him. Even Waddell said so in the STH town hall meeting. Kari can’t stay healthy YET. Every year he’s hurt and misses months on end. He can’t be depended on to be in goal, which is sad because he has alot of potential to be really good IF he can stay healthy. Who else was Waddell gonna trade? Moose? He’s the reason the Thrashers are only 3 points from a playoff spot. He’s been playing unbelievable goal and better than I’ve seen. Pavelec? Pulease! You don’t trade away a good 22 year goalie playing his first full season in the NHL when he has so much more to learn and more room to grow and get better. It’ll take him a year or two to really fully develop into his full potential. You guys need to take a Zanex or something and think reasonably here.

J.B.

February 10th, 2010
12:15 pm

Apparently all our pending UFA’s are in high demand. According to thefourthperiod.com, ATL is getting alot of calls from teams interested in a number of players…

Rockem Sockem Thrasher

February 10th, 2010
1:13 pm

Here’s the link that J.B. mentioned:

http://www.thefourthperiod.com/news/atl100210.html

I’m ok with the Kari trade. We probably got real value for Kari.

Who knew other teams would be interested in Slava?

Smoothie

February 10th, 2010
1:26 pm

Oh yeah, don’t forget that Kubina has a no-trade clause. He would have to approve any more. We shall see.

Reassuring to read, on the 4th period site, that DWad has no interest in rental players. But does that include Poni who Antro could help sign as a FA?

Smoothie

February 10th, 2010
1:31 pm

…any MOVE…damn typos

John

February 10th, 2010
2:23 pm

This is a steal for Waddell. Teams miss on goalie prospects all the freakin time…its like drafting relief pitchers. Sometimes they’re awesome. Other times they hang out in the minors for their whole career. When they do work out, it’s fantastic, when they don’t, it’s usually pretty bad.

Why would we want to get Kari in the mix this year? As we’ve seen from him before, it’s going to take a solid 3 games to get back to NHL game shape…sure, he had a couple good rehab starts, but it’s not AHL guys who are gonna be shooting at him. How many points do you want to sacrifice for Kari to get back into “game shape?”

We get another pick and a solid NHL prospect to help the blue line rush who has played in more NHL games this year than Lehtonen. Waddell wins this one.

GaVaHokie

February 10th, 2010
2:55 pm

Ask the Rangers about Al Montoya… 6th overall pick in 2004.

I was also thinking it’s good that we traded Lehtonen now instead of waiting until after the Olympic break… it’s good to make the move before Montreal decides what to do with Halak and Price, or the Islanders with Biron and Roloson.

Rockem Sockem Thrasher

February 10th, 2010
3:09 pm

Rockem Sockem Thrasher

February 10th, 2010
3:13 pm

Don’t know if this has been posted. Vishnevskiy has been assigned to Chicago. I guess we won’t be using him to replace Boris.

http://theahl.com/vishnevskiy-traded-to-atlanta-assigned-to-chicago-p140644

kracker

February 10th, 2010
3:28 pm

Kozzy is mentioned by the 4th period as having the Kings, Wings, Bruins and Flames interested in him. He’s tonight’s healthy scratch….which assures he will remain ‘healthy’ and might also pursuade him that it’s time to go, as sorry as I am to sat that.

Mike

February 10th, 2010
3:38 pm

I would rather call up Kulda for the rest of the year vs. keeping Ivan here. Let’s see what Kulda has and let him learn from Kubina until Kubina is gone. Let Ivan learn from Chelios the rest of the season down in Chicago.

puckhead

February 10th, 2010
4:37 pm

Boris appears to be a player that is going to stay hurt. The addition of another young, quality dman was a timely move. We traded a high first rounder (Kari) for 27th pick first rounder in Vish and got a 4th round pick – makes it even.

Brendan

February 10th, 2010
10:33 pm

Well, I wish Kari well. His career has been a disappointment in Atlanta. Kari probably needs a change of scenery. And really, in Waddell’s shoes, Kari made him look foolish. And if “anger” played a part in this trade, as in, “If I’m going down, I’m taking you with me, Kari,” Waddell may well come out ahead in this deal.

But if Kari does play well in Dallas, to the point where they re-sign him, and he becomes their #1 goalie, then it will be something to talk about. Personally, I never thought Kari should have been drafted back in 2002. But once you realize that decision cannot be undone, Kari does still, even now, at age 26 or 27, have potential. I was even thinking that Kari could be the Thrashers backup goalie. And if Kari doesn’t like that role, he could step up his game and EARN the #1 spot. What a concept, huh? I think Kari could have been kept very affordably. But if Dudley agreed that now was the best time to dish him, then so be it. Kari did not live up to expectations. Certainly, the failure to make the playoffs in 2006 falls principally on his injury.

What amazes me, however, is that even if this trade causes you to do CARTWHEELS, who drafted him? Whose judgement was it, in 2002, that Kari be made a Thrasher? Was it the Easter Bunny? The Abonimable Snowman? Sasquatch? The Tooth Fairy? Where’s the accountability for the decision-making throughout the course of this Administration?

I hope Atlanta won this trade. I want what’s best for the team. But if Don Waddell told me the sun was coming up tomorrow, I’d still rush out to the store for candles and flashlight. It’s his decision-making that has landed us where we are. Even if the Thrashers do make the postseason dance, it’ll be the second time in ten years. Fifty-three percent (53%) of the league’s teams do. And the East, this year, is particularly inept. That ineptness sustains Atlanta’s potential playoff berth.

Blackie Smith

February 11th, 2010
4:01 pm

Nicklas Backstrom put one in his own net http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS2K2-WSMWo

Mistakes happen even in the best of players shame on you guys. It is sad that you guys can’t be pleased, a young rookie and he makes a mistake. If that is the case, what do you think of Backstrom’s mistake and if was traded to your team? Personally I think you are a bunch of Atlanta Trashers!