Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 25 or more games this season (and are still with the team) and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
#32 / Goalie / Dallas Stars
Nov 16, 1983
|2010 - Kari Lehtonen||69||4119||34||24||175||2.55||2043||1868||.914||3|
Key Stat: 68 - The number of games Kari played in back in 2006-07 with the Atlanta Thrashers which had been a career high in games played in a season until Kari had played one more than that this past season. His 69 games played placed him 4th among goalies in the league.
The Good: Doubts that anyone had over his health and conditioning coming into this season faded away rather quickly as the season progressed and it was clear the Stars had the all-star caliber Kari and not the out of shape injury prone goalie that caused him to be deemed expendable by the Thrashers in the first place. Many nights as the Stars would drag along with their starts in games, it was Kari's work that made sure that the team in front either stayed even or didn't fall too far behind.
The Bad: There wasn't much bad with Kari's game outside of the fact he may have been overworked this season. At times Kari took his rather sizable 6 foot 4 inch frame and made it smaller as he would crouch or go into the butterfly way too soon and as such get beaten high, especially on the glove side.
The Bottom Line: Kari justified Joe Nieuwendyk's faith in him when GM Joe gave him a three year deal and allowed previous franchise goalie Marty Turco to walk away last summer. The debate on if he was worked way too much or if he thrived with the workload will rage on all summer, although it didn't seem to harm Kari as much as one would think. The challenge next season for Kari won't be to prove that he can simply play a full season, but if he can continue to be a workhorse than can keep stealing wins for Dallas.
The Vote: Rate Lehtonen below on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season he was here.