Tuesday night the Atlanta Thrashers shipped off Kari Lehtonen to the Dallas Stars in return for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth round draft pick.
With this deal, combined with the one that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey last week, the Thrashers have dumped quite a bit of salary of late. Lehtonen is scheduled to be an RFA this summer and is currently making $3 million…Vishnevskiy will be an RFA in 2011 and is being paid just under $850,000 per season.
Vishnevskiy was the 27th overall draft pick in the 2006 draft and has played in a total of 5 NHL games…two this season. He has two assists in those games…both coming last season and both on the power play. In between periods of the Stars game in Chicago, Craig Ludwig…a former NHL defenseman for Montreal and Stars… said that the Thrashers are getting an offensive-minded blueliner but needs some work on his play in the defensive zone.
Lehtonen departs Thrasherville having just returned to the club from his conditioning stint with the Wolves and has yet to play in the NHL since last spring. He compiled a career record of 94-83-17 in 204 games played in Atlanta…196 were starts…with a 2.87 GAA, .912 SV% and 14 shutouts.
So…unless there is another trade planned to bring in a proven number one goalie…it looks as though Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavelec will be the ones between the pipes as the Thrashers look to make any playoff push this season. To that point, Chris Vivlamore tweeted that Don Waddell told him, “They have proved to be capable of carrying the load”.
With Kari’s departure, the Thrashers have parted ways with all of their top pick in their first five drafts.
Patrick Stefan, the top pick in 1999, is no longer playing hockey and is a player agent living in California.
Dany Healey, pick second overall in 2000, was traded away in 2005 to Ottawa and now plays in San Jose.
Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001’s overall number one, was dealt away last week to New Jersey.
Kari Lehtonen, second overall in 2002, as we have discussed is off to the Big D.
Braydon Coburn, the eighth overall draft pick in 2003, was shipped off to Philadelphia in 2006 in exchange for Alexei Zhitnik.