A year later, Lehtonen deal seems to have benefited both Thrashers and Stars

Whenever a big trade goes down in professional sports, one of the things that fans and pundits alike engage in is the discussion of which of the two sides got the better of the deal. To some, there always has to be a “winner” or a “loser” in the transaction. But the fact is a lot of times it benefited both organizations.

This is true, I believe, of the trade that went down last winter that sent goalie Kari Lehtonen to the Dallas Stars, whom the Thrashers will be facing tonight out in Texas. It’ll be the first time the two parties will face each other after parting ways almost a year ago.

Taken by the Thrashers with the second overall pick in the 2002 draft, Kari played in 204 games while with Atlanta, 196 of which were starts, and he compiled a record of 94-83-17 with a 2.87 GAA, .912 SV% and 14 shutouts. However, only one season passed with Lehtonen not suffering some sort of ailment…normally groin or back related…that kept him out for extended periods.

Prior to last season, “Kari Down ’09” started earlier than “Kari Down ‘08”, ”Kari Down ‘07” and “Kari Down ‘05″. He had undergone back surgery during the offseason and he was not healthy enough to play until more than halfway through the season. However, he wouldn’t play another game in a Thrashers uniform as the team decided to finally cut their losses with the oft-injured second overall pick in the 2002 draft. And so, on February 9 he was shipped off to Big D.

Kari Lehtonen has found a hame in Dallas as he's is 24-14-5 after being traded to the Stars .(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Kari Lehtonen seems to have found a home in Dallas. He is 24-14-5 after being traded to the Stars last winter (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Kari went on to play start 10 times for the Stars in the latter stages of last season and played in a total of 12 games. He finished with a 6-4-0 record, a 2.81 GAA and .911 SV%. So far this year, he is 18-10-5 with 2.59 GAA and .916 SV%.

In his most recent outing, Lehtonen stopped 39 of 41 Edmonton Oilers’ shots during a 3-2 Stars win last Tuesday night. And he’s allowed 2 or few goals in 8 of his last 10 games while posting up a .920 SV5 during that time.

For those who expressed concern about cutting ties with Kari…thinking maybe the Thrashers did so too soon…while I understand your feelings, personally I believe as I did then that it was time for the two to part ways. For us, we simply could not take any more “Kari-Down” situations. For him, I felt a change of scenery and situation would probably be just what he needed. That, plus having a goalie coach around to mentor him would seriously do the kid some good.

As for Atlanta…in return for Lehtonen, they received defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and Dallas’ second round draft pick in last June’s draft. With that pick, the Thrashers took Russian left winger Ivan Telegin.

Telegin plays for the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit and last season put up 26 goals and 18 assists in 51 regular season games and was a +2. He notched a goal and a helper and was a -5 in 6 playoff games. This year he has 8 goals and 23 assists in 31 games played and is a +19 going into Friday night’s game at Sault St. Marie.

After playing in 28 for the Thrashers AHL affiliate in Chicago, Vishnevskiy was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks on July 1 of last summer for Andrew Ladd and Atlanta’s second round draft pick. Ladd, of course, would go on to be named team captain for the Thrashers and leads all forwards on the team with 15 goals and 22 assists, including one goal scored in last night’s 5-2 loss to the Flyers.

Along with Dustin Byfuglien, Ladd has become one of the players the organization looks to build the future around and general manager Rick Dudley has indicated he has already begun talks with his agent to work out a deal that will keep Ladd the captain here for some time to come.

So as a direct result of last winter’s trade, the Thrashers have a promising prospect and a team captain that has been producing for the team on the ice and in the locker room. The Dallas Stars got a goalie that has gone 24-14-5 since the trade and seems to be just what they needed after they and Marty Turco went their separate ways last summer.

Looks like that’s a result both teams and both sets of fans can be happy with.

68 comments Add your comment

Red Light

January 16th, 2011
10:12 am

3-7-2 since Dec. 20 with one regulation win against Florida in that span. Florida just 7 points behind with four games in hand.

Sage of Bluesland Alert!


January 16th, 2011
10:31 am

Brendan– Calgary’s GM addressed those rumors on HNIC last night, saying that he still has no intention to deal Iginla, saying that the “needs to find who the core players are on our team, and build around them”. (Of course, complete honesty doesn’t really count for too much in the modern NHL, so who knows?) Also, I think that Dudley thought that the team could win, even with the low payroll… but, as is evident now, troubles are arising. We need to make a trade for proven players, whether or not they come with hefty price tags.

Another big concern which has reared its ugly head is Mason’s injury. While Mason, of course, has played rather poorly as of late, this team (or any team, for that matter, especially if it is struggling) cannot afford to have a goalie out. What do they do now if Mason is hurt long-term? Do we bring Mannino back to the NHL? MacIntyre? Or, do we make a trade? Perhaps even sign Nabokov?

This should be an interesting few days…


January 16th, 2011
11:39 am

Three huge divisional games coming up. Must win at least 2 of 3 to right the ship. Otherwise they’ll continue to plummet to the depths. Will these trials reveal character? Or will they spell the team’s demise?

Other than that, last nite’s effort doesn’t deserve any further waste of grey matter.


January 16th, 2011
11:56 am

Some interesting posts today. No way in hell we could get Iginla and besides, he is getting a bit long in the tooth. We need a younger power forward that can battle in the corners and hand the abuse in front of the net. I will have to do some looking to find candidates – get back to you later.

Sorry Falcons fans. You ran into a buzz saw. A lot of people are blaming Ryan, not the problem. The D sucked and if Jenkins had caught that ball and not slipped, the outcome might have been very different.

World Be Free

January 16th, 2011
12:27 pm

Greg-it would be nice if YOU packed it in and left town.

Hope Duds has something up his sleeve – this team does not resemble the one that shot up the charts the first third of the season. This keeps up I will be counting the days to Spring Training, pitchers and catchers.

Could be worse-we could be the Falcons, who just got slammed by a green and yellow snowball. How did Aaron Rodgers fall to #24 in the draft?


January 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

Take this for what it’s worth, but I’m not sure how much it’s worth. The Fourth Period seems to have a little more creditability than Eklund, but I don’t really go back and check to see how accurate they are when they make specific rumor predictions:

“Thrashers GM Rick Dudley and President Don Waddell, who remains active in trade discussions, have been weighing their options and looking for ways to improve their team, as the Feb. 28 trade deadline inches closer.

“The Thrashers have been scouting the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks, among other teams, this month.

“Dudley would like to add another top-six forward and a gritty depth forward.

“The Thrashers have a significant amount of available cap space (almost $18 million), but will not spend nearly that much. Ownership has given management the green light to add to the roster to boost the club’s chances at locking in a playoff spot.”

Unfortunately, no mention of the possibility we’re looking to shore up the blueline. Hmmmm.


January 16th, 2011
12:54 pm

Disgusting to say the least, The VERY least. Outscored 24-9 in last four games. That is 6 GA EVERY GAME !!!! What has happened ?

Simply put bogoisan is TERRIBLE, Where has Bermistrov gone ?? Played well at the start but has faded badly, and Antropov, Nothing out of him for weeks and weeks. Goaltendein which was so good, has fallen off the radar… What has gone wrong ?

It is HIGHT time the defenseman play DEFENSE, quit this jumping into the play, I believe that is killing us. Carry the puck through the nutural zone and into the zone, no more dump in’s on such a regular basis.

Watch how EASY other teams get the puck out of their zone on our dumpin’s, it has been AWFUL !!!

Something has to be done. But zach has had it in Atlanta a BUST of YET another #1 pick. His play has gone DOWN HILL since his first season and is NOT getting better. I rarely see an NHL defenseman look so LOST on the ice, he seems to be that way ALL THE TIME, I’m surprised he can find the Atlanta players bench… Simply put I, for one, have seen enough of him to know it is time to TRADE him while he still has “some” value…

But this has to STOP and STOP Now or NO PLAYOFFS !

Red Light

January 16th, 2011
12:57 pm

“How did Aaron Rodgers fall to #24 in the draft?”

Probably the same way no one thought Tom Brady could play and didn’t draft him until the 6th round.

Red Light

January 16th, 2011
1:04 pm

The 8th through 13th place in Eastern Conference (win totals). Not much separation between these teams.
Atlanta 22
Carolina 22
Florida 21
Buffalo 19
Toronto 18
Ottawa 17

World Be Free

January 16th, 2011
1:35 pm

Red Light, if you remember Rodgers was the early odds on to go in the top 3 picks during his draft year, but he fell in the draft to #24 right into Green Bay’s lap! Atl and Carolina are clearly the better teams of the ones you have listed. Buffalo reverted to their poor form against the Islanders last night. Tronna and Ottawa can’t score and Florida is still trying to determine if they are a buyer or seller as we approach the trading deadline.

Smoothie-Wonder where Kulda is in the Thrashers future discussions? Is he trade bait for a 3rd line left winger. Another trade with Chicago? I still like the idea of Penner coming here.

Hockey Biltong

January 16th, 2011
1:48 pm

Seabrook and Moulson…


January 16th, 2011
2:08 pm

We are SIX (6) weeks away from the trade deadline. So, that’s an eternity from now, in hockey terms. Yes, but … teams like Carolina decide ‘early’ to make moves to give their adjusted lineup some extra time to gel. Maybe, we could be ahead of the curve? I don’t have anyone, specifically, in mind. I wish I knew, truthfully, who was being shopped. If I knew that, I could at least “weigh in” on what sounds good and what’s an acceptable return. If you ask me who to get, I’ll produce a list of names who will NEVER, EVER come here, in deals that will NEVER, EVER transpire. We can all invent trade scenarios. They never seem to happen.

By the way, I’m not suggesting Atlanta go after Iginla or Kiprussoff. I was only commenting on what I saw on the “hot stove.” Certainly, we can all empathize with Calgary’s woes. They’ve overpaid for players, given them NTC’s, and none of them are getting any younger. Ouch. I think we’ve learned our lesson about Holik-type contracts and NTC’s for Slava Kozlov, etc. We’ve traveled down the road of the $6.0 million cap hit (Hossa) and $6.5 million cap hit (Kovalchuk) during a lean budget. The result is … we’re a 1-trick pony, that’s easy to shutdown, especially come playoff time. At least now, today’s Thrashers have some depth. We’ve seen how our team has been successful. Our recipe for success is a “balancing act.” When the Greek Gods line chips in, along with Antropov’s line and Ladd and Byfuglien, we win. That’s a depth strategy. We’ve seen outstanding goaltending from Pavelec. Or we wouldn’t be where we are now. And truthfully, I still say we’re wayyyy ahead of where I thought we’d be, in mid-January. So, it’s a matter of everyone playing better and being ready to play. Plus, yes, we do need to add some proven commodities, if that’s possible to do, without coughing up our prized prospects and/or coveted “high end” draft picks. (Think Keith Tkachuk deal, circa 2007.)

Look, folks. I don’t want to give away the farm, so that we can ‘eek’ into the playoffs, and get muscled out in five or fewer games. But I do think there’s a way to pry some players away, at a prorated salary, without so much time left on their contracts, and NOT give up high end draft picks. What did Dallas give up to get the Devil’s Captain, Jaime Langenbrunner? Answer: A conditional 3rd round pick. Would Langenbrunner have been the answer here? Probably not, but I surely don’t mind a “conditional 3rd rounder” being his price tag. Third round picks turn into players like Chris Thorburn or Pascal Dupuis, at best, barring a glaring misperception by NHL Central Scouting.

Calgary would have trouble moving Iggy and Kipper, even if they AGREED to waive their NTC’s. Those are high-priced players, whose best days are behind them. Calgary will have to find a market that is willing to max out its cap to get those types of guys. And what the Flames hear as compensation … just may well leave them thinking, “For that, we’re better off keeping them.” Which is probably what they’ll do.

Sage of Bluesland

January 16th, 2011
2:48 pm

…Oh, another loss will turn Joe-Bob-Friday’s thoughts around…Well, at least he’s a little quicker this time around….

(of course, I’m sure he “knew it all along”…)

I ask yet AGAIN: Do you folks in Thrashersland feel it? Do you? You aren’t so dull to NOT know what it is, right? Right?



January 16th, 2011
2:48 pm

WBF – I think I’d trade Bogo and a prospect for Penner in a heartbeat. Keep Kulda and trade Bergfors to Buffalo for Montador. Let Montador replace Bogo and hope that both Kulda and Postma will be NHL D-men of the future. If we wait much longer, Bogo won’t have any trade value. But EDM might be willing since they may figure they won’t be able to resign Penner as a UFA. Dustin might really like the idea of playing with another big Dustin, Ladd, Little, Kane and Pevs.


January 16th, 2011
4:13 pm

I still wouldn’t trade Bogosian. He’s so very young. Normally, defensemen take 4 years to develop. Bogosian’s Draft Year was 2008. Which means that we cannot label him a bust until 2012, at the earliest. In typical Atlanta Thrashers fashion, they “rushed” him into the lineup, like they have with Stefan, Coburn, Burmistrov, Bogosian, and Kane. And because that “rushing” worked, everyone thought, “See! Smart decision.” Well, Bogosian is a work in progress. Yes, I know he’s a 3rd overall pick, and because of that, people expect a faster progression from him. He needs some coaching up. But he’ll get there. Coburn got there. Eventually. It took another organization to do it, but he got there. And Coburn really, for an 8th overall pick, hasn’t hung the moon. But he has been effective for the Flyers. He’s a successful draft pick in this league. Phaneuf, at 9th overall same year, has been successful, too. Phaneuf got paid, though. And with that pay day, comes expectations. High expectations, especially in Toronto.

Sage of Bluesland, honestly, wouldn’t you say, for a BELOW the FLOOR of the salary cap payroll, that the Thrashers have overachieved? I would. I didn’t expect playoffs this season. My “official” AJC.com contest entry was “81-points, 4th in SE Division, and 11th in the Conference.” I’ve been delighted to have been so offbase, through the early portion of the season. I hope my pick isn’t correct. But if it is, it’s still a fantastic “return on investment” for dollars spent. The Atlanta Spirit, LLC, paid for a 29th or 30th place finish. Certainly, a lottery draft finish. Right now, in mid-January, the Thrashers are actually in playoff position. That’s coaching. That’s what’s given we Thrasher fans … the hope … that the playoffs are a possibility. I never did get a vote case from you, Sage, in the contest. But the lowest guess was “East Point Bob,” at 60-points, 5th in SE Division, and 15th in the Conference. Of the 86 votes casted, 46 of them had the Thrashers at 90-points, or higher. So, that’s where “expectations” were of this blog, on October 7, 2010. Eighty-two (82) points is a .500 season.

Even a .500 season, for a league minimum payroll, would put a Coach into the “nomination” process for the Jack Adams “Coach of the Year” award. It’s easy for me to sit here and say, “If I were the owner, I’d do this, or that, or the other.” But, really, truly … this ownership ISSSS in position to do … just about ANYTHING it wanted to … by the Feb. 28th trade deadline. There’s (not a misprint) $18 million in cap room. It’s up to ownership to decide if the RESULTS of this season MATTER to them. Candidly, perhaps they do not. They set the budget where they do. And whatever the results are … are what they are. That’s my fear, right there. I fear … that they just don’t care. They want to look at the Hawks, and see what THEY need at the trade deadline, to ensure the playoffs or a higher seed in the playoffs. As R.Stroz says, so very often, “money is fungible.”

World Be Free

January 16th, 2011
8:11 pm

Brendan-I would take Iginla in a heartbeat. He is 32 but he;’s also the complete package, a leader who plays both ends of the rink with equal enthusiasm. One of the few assets the Thrashers have right now is the cap space to take his salary for the duration of his contract. I also agree with you on NOT trading Bogosian. You look at the defenseman in this league and how long it takes to mature fully. And now we can also look at Tyler Myers, how great he looked last year and how far he’s fallen this season. These guys are still kids. He needs someone to lead him, trading Bogo is not the answer.

Smoothie not sure what it will take to get Penner, Bogo and a prospect may be too much to give up.
I like Montador, but he’s a UFA at the end of this season, we may not have to give up that much to get him though I am certain Buffalo would entertain the thought of Bergfors. Big changes in store in Buffalo after new ownership takes over. Pegua wants to be a winner.

World Be Free

January 16th, 2011
8:14 pm

And somebody is going to land Dainius Zubrus


January 16th, 2011
8:18 pm

WBF – Congrats…looks like you just got Ranallo-ed, buddy.