What, you say? Are you crazy?? Trade away Kari Lehtonen, the best player on the Dallas Stars?
I’ve been accused of insanity many times, but just hear me out on this one.
Clearly, the Dallas Stars are in rebuilding mode, although no front office will ever admit that (well, maybe if you’re the Florida Panthers.) So many holes exist on this team, an overhaul of the team is sorely needed. While Stars officials contend the roster is just a tweak or two from playoff contender, let’s just be honest, possibly-insane writer to reader.
The defensive corps is a mess (even with the recent signing of Sergei Gonchar) and the forwards (aside from a couple studs in Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson) are young, raw and still developing. Excluding Ray Whitney, this group is a squirming mass of high energy, fresh legs and question marks.
The entire roster is one big question mark, sans Lehtonen. So why should the Stars trade their best player, the only area of the ice that CAN be counted on night in and night out?
- The trade value – At age 29, Kari Lehtonen has proved critics wrong when signed by former Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk with stellar netminding and an ability to stay off the IR list. Sure he’s had a few groin tweaks, but that’s to be expected when he has to routinely make 35-40 saves a game. He’s a rock in net and can carry a team. He who could be the elixir to a team like the Philadelphia Flyers or Toronto Maple Leafs.
- The Richard Bachman factor – Bachman has proved in limited duty over the past two seasons he can answer the bell. Remember when the Stars held onto their rock, aka Marty Turco, too long when backup Mike Smith was brimming with top dog potential? Smith was traded and ended up producing big for the Phoenix Coyotes, while Turco slumped and was eventually released. The Stars have Bachman to take the reins with talented rookies in the wings.
- The return – Played right, Stars GM Jim Nill could pry two or three solid contributors for Lehtonen. This of course would be a make or break move for Nill, way more unnerving than the Gonchar signing. A top-tier defenseman is a must, and perhaps a second or third line guy capable of 15-20 goals a season. (Second or third on the giving team, vaulted onto first line for the Stars.)
- The splash – The Stars have already unveiled new uniforms, a new logo, hired Nill and are hoping the soon-to-be new head coach revitalizes interest in both the sliver of diehard fans and the finicky masses who buy the majority of suites and first deck tickets. Last year’s signing of Jaromir Jagr titillated the most sanguine of Stars fans. Making a blockbuster move like this could revitalize the Stars fan base and drive ticket sales to a height realized by teams like the Chicago Blackhawks (a goal which team president Jim Lites recently pledged to season/group ticket holders.)
Is this move stupid? No. Is it primed for smart move/super bust? Of course. Is it a move that Nill, given his background with the ultra-smart, almost-always-right Detroit Red Wings, would dare to make? Probably not. Is it a move that could possibly pay dividends for the Stars? Absolutely.
A certifiable hockey addict, I’ve been writing sports articles for over 10 years and been a diehard Dallas Stars fan for 20.