According to a newspaper out of Helsinki, Finland, goaltender Jussi Rynnas will reportedly sign with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL. While this is not as big as the franchise’s top goalie leaving, this move, if true, will still leave the Dallas Stars and their AHL affiliate vulnerable in net.
Rynnas signed a two-year, one-way contract with the Stars on July 7, 2014, so he still has one year left on his current deal. It will be interesting to see what happens with regard to that and the possible upcoming transfer agreement between the NHL and KHL.
— Fedor Fedin (@FedFedRMNB) June 9, 2015
Rynnas’ Departure Leaves Big Void
Though he only played two games for Dallas this season, Rynnas spent the most time in net for the Texas Stars this season. He played in 39 games and finished with 22 wins, a 2.53 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. He helped lead Texas to the Calder Cup playoffs, but the Stars failed to repeat as Calder Cup champions as they were swept by the Rockford Ice Hogs in the first round.
If Rynnas heads to the KHL and Jhonas Enroth seeks to sign a new contract elsewhere this summer, the Stars will be left with five goalies under the age of 24 and Kari Lehtonen coming off his worst season with the Stars. Not exactly ideal for a team with a shaky defense and porous goaltending. Add in a weak free agent goalie class, and this summer will be a very interesting challenge for Jim Nill.
Jussi Rynnas reportedly signing in KHL. That’s going to be a big blow to Stars goalie depth. — Brandon Worley (@brandonworley) June 9, 2015
Since his arrival in April 2013, Nill has attempted to solve Dallas’ goaltending woes by signing Rynnas, Anders Lindback, Dan Ellis and Cristopher Nilstorp and trading for Enroth and Tim Thomas. The only goalie on that list that remains with the franchise is Enroth, and he could be gone in July.
All That Remains
Not that Rynnas is a great option for backup duties in Dallas, but his departure leaves an important opening in the AHL.
There are serviceable backup goalies available for the big club this summer, but the Stars are in need of more than just a backup. The Stars need someone to constantly push and challenge Lehtonen, someone who could take on a heavier load if needed. Now with Rynnas leaving, the Stars will be looking for an AHL starter as well.
Jack Campbell’s ups and downs since being drafted in 2010 prove he still needs more seasoning in the minors. Phillippe Desrosiers, Henri Kiviaho, Maxime Lagace and Brent Moran are all too inexperienced or too early on in their development to battle for starting AHL ice time, let alone backup NHL duties.
While the Stars can physically fill the goaltending vacancies throughout the franchise, the problem exists with necessary quality at each level and the different stages of development each remaining goalie is at. Looks like Nill will have his hands full with the goalie department again this summer.