We all know that with the playoffs realistically out of reach, every start Kari Lehtonen has made or will make until the end of the year is an audition for the starting job next season.
So far, he's passing with flying colors:
|2009 - Kari Lehtonen||8||421||4||2||20||2.85||226||206||.912||0|
Pretty solid numbers for someone who hasn't played in a year. I think it's safe to assume that he's been impressive enough to convince management that he can be the number one guy next year.
But who is number two?
It's an important question, and one that will likely be answered in the off-season in free agency. But why not try to find a number two from within this season?
After the jump, we'll look at the two options that I feel the Stars could take in regards to the goaltender situation the rest of the season....
The first option is to keep the status quo. This is the easy solution, and I can see why many fans would like to see this happen. The concept behind it is simple: let Kari get as many starts as he wants, and let Marty spot start him and get as many starts as he can before his time as a Dallas Star draws to a close.
So far, this strategy has been good for Lehtonen and iffy for Turco. We've already highlighted Kari's numbers as a Star, and they do seem impressive considering the circumstances. But Turco's struggles have continued:
|2009 - Marty Turco||5
Some will look at those numbers and say "Who cares? It's not about wins anymore, it's about his last few games as a Star. That's what counts."
Dallas can continue riding out Marty Turco for sentimental value, sure. Because it's true, it's not about wins anymore. The playoffs are out of the picture. You know it. I know it. The team knows it. The coach knows it. Everyone knows it. So why not just keep with the plan and split starts between Kari and Turco?
Because it's a bit counterproductive, if you ask me. Eventually the Stars are going to have to figure out an answer for their backup goalie situation next year. It's safe to say that Marty Turco is not the answer. The Stars should get a head start on that front now, and start by looking within.
Right now the Stars have two goalies in Austin who deserve a good look. Brent Krahn has anchored the Texas Stars all season (when healthy) with a great 1.84 GAA and a .944 SV%. As our AHL correspondent Stephen Meserve pointed out on the podcast a couple weeks ago, Krahn was the main reason for the Stars' torrid pace to begin the AHL season before he got injured. 'Injured' would be the key word though, as Krahn has battled injury after injury since he was drafted 9th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. But that's where I think a backup role would suit him better. Less starts, less chance of injury and more time to stay conditioned. If he can perform in a backup role as well as he has starting down in Cedar Park, then Dallas would have a solid piece backing up Kari Lehtonen.If he can stay healthy.
Matt Climie is another story. His numbers in Austin haven't been all that amazing (2.41 GAA and a .921 SV%) but they're solid nonetheless. But between him and Krahn, Climie is clearly the goalie who needs the most time in the minors to improve.
So I think the Stars should consider making a move to bring up Krahn or Climie for a couple of starts before the season is over.
Yeah, it limits the already limited time Turco has left playing for Dallas. But long-term, it's worth it. If either Krahn or Climie impresses the Stars enough, maybe Joe could save some money this offseason by not having to invest in a goalie.