With the Stars struggling and the fact they have the highest paid goaltending tandem in the league, it’s quite possible that netminder Kari Lehtonen could be on another team next season either from a trade or even a potential buyout. He admitted to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News that the thought of where he may wind up next season has crossed his mind:
“It’s hard sometimes not to think about it, but you have a job to do. It’s part of this sport, and you do best when you concentrate on controlling what you can control.”
Although Lehtonen has the better numbers between himself and Antti Niemi this season, he also has the more expensive cap hit at $5.9MM which could make him the more likely candidate to not return. If the Stars were to buy him out, he’d cost them a cap hit of $2.57MM in 2017-18 and $1.67MM in 2018-19; the higher amount next year coming from the fact his deal is slightly front loaded. (For comparison, a buyout of Niemi’s $4.5MM cap hit would be an even $1.5MM for the next two years.)
More from the Central:
- The back end for the Blackhawks will get a boost tomorrow night against Anaheim. Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune reports that Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the lineup after missing the last four games with an upper body injury. The recently re-acquired Johnny Oduya will also suit up for Chicago in what will be his first game in his second stint with the team. There’s a good chance that Michal Kempny and Michal Rozsival will cede their spots on the blueline and be healthy scratches.
- Terry Frei of the Denver Post suggests that GM Joe Sakic would be wise to at least listen to any overtures other teams might have regarding center Nathan MacKinnon this offseason even though just last month he declared the 21 year old as one of only a handful of untouchable players on the team. The former number one overall pick back in 2013 has just 13 goals through 65 games despite averaging over 20 minutes per game for the first time in his career. That’s likely not encouraging for a team that will likely be counting on him even more next season with Matt Duchene and/or Gabriel Landeskog potentially on the move with the team reportedly prioritizing defensive help in a return.