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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Will Newly Acquired Antti Niemi Make Kari Lehtonen Better?

The NHL’s Goalie-Go-Round was all the rage on Saturday as most, though not all, of the dominos fell for the teams looking for a starting-caliber netminder.

Cam Talbot landed with the Edmonton Oilers. Eddie Lack is preparing for the delicious, vinegar-based barbeque in he’ll find in Carolina. The Boston Bruins are apparently going to play all the goalies next year.

And the Dallas Stars ended up with the wildcard in the bunch, the rights to impending unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi.

While the negotiations are still ongoing, several media sources feel like Stars general manager Jim Nill is close to reaching an agreement for a 2-3 year contract extension with the Finnish netminder.

That wasn’t the direction many thought the Stars would take with the goalies this offseason, but Niemi and current Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen have been teammates before.

That both netminders are the same age and shared time with the Finnish Olympic team in Sochi in 2014 might provide the right balance of familiarity and competition to bring Lehtonen back to the form he showed in 2013-14, when he backstopped the Stars to a surprise playoff berth.

Another result of coming up through the same Finnish goalie development system is both Lehtonen and Niemi play a relatively similar style that, when working, relies on quick butterfly work and being “big” in net. There are differences of course – Lehtonen is less prone to give up rebounds while Niemi is more explosive laterally – but the overall game they bring won’t necessitate the defense approaching things like breakouts any differently.

Assuming Niemi signs an extension, it will certainly be a interesting dynamic. As much as this is insurance for the Stars, it’s also a message to Lehtonen (and also AHL goalie Jack Campbell) that the Stars are willing to disregard sunk cost if the position doesn’t improve. The Stars have cap space for a reason, and Nill said the per-capita cost of shoring up a position of need doesn’t faze him.

“People will comment on that, but it’s no different than adding depth at any position,” Nill said. “We need to improve our goaltending, we have the cap space, and we believe this is the best way to do that.”


If the whole goalie thing doesn’t work out, Niemi could at least drive the Zamboni at the American Airlines Center. []

The San Jose Sharks had already essentially bid farewell to Niemi even before the trade, but by failing to grab a spot on that goalie-go-round, they are still stuck looking heading into free agency. [San Jose Mercury News]

Of course, the answer may be that always fun Mystery Goalie, which sounds like one of those electronic-voice board games from the 1990s. [Puck Daddy]

The newest fifth-round pick for the Stars, defenseman Joe Cecconi, not only has the distinction of having the responsibility to keep up the team’s ridiculous draft luck in that round, he also got to live out one of his childhood dreams when Lindy Ruff greeted him after the pick was made. He was a fan of Buffalo Sabres growing up, idolizing the back-to-back Eastern Conference champions in 2006 and 2007 and particularly Brian Campbell. We are all officially fossils. [Buffalo News]

If you’re looking for more information on Stars second-round pick Roope Hintz (neck-in-neck for the winner in best name drafted by the Stars with sixth-round goalie Markus Ruusu), a few of our friends at other SB Nation sites have you covered. [Lighthouse Hockey/In Lou We Trust]

The New York Rangers tried really, really hard to get a first-round pick for goalie Cam Talbot (which leads one to wonder if they were the ones planting the rumor that a first-rounder was indeed on the table Friday), but instead they only managed to drive most teams out of the bidding war. in the end, it was a trio of picks from the Oilers that brought the goalie to the West. [ Daddy]

The Carolina Hurricanes weren’t one of the big players in the goalie rumor mill, but they were the ones who broke the hearts of some Vancouver Canucks fans by acquiring Eddie Lack for draft picks. []

There were some very busy Ducks out in Anaheim, picking up forward Carl Hagelin from the Rangers for Emerson Etem and sending defenseman James Wisniewski to Carolina for backup goalie Anton Khudobin. [OC Register]

If you had to name the two teams most likely to be involved in salary cap shenanigans, the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes might top the list for entirely different reasons. And because of that, the two executed a pretty eyebrow-raising deal on Saturday where the Coyotes sent Sam Gagner to the Flyers for former Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossmann and the still-on-the-books contract of Chris Pronger. The Flyers are expected to buy out Gagner. There are so many layers of ridiculousness to this deal that it makes my head hurt. [Five for Howling]

We’ll leave you on this Sunday morning with why the Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets social media teams are now and forever BFFs. Remember, y’all, hockey is serious business.