Kari Lehtonen Traded to Dallas
It appears Don Wadell didn't take much of a break after trading Ilya Kovalchuk. Only days after he traded the superstar winger to the New Jersey Devils, the Atlanta Thrashers have apparently traded what was once considered their franchise goalie.
Often injured Kari Lehtonen will be moving to the Lone Star State, as Thrashers beat writer Chris Vivlamore reports that Lehtonen has been traded to the Dallas stars for defensive prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy and a low-round pick (possibly a 5th rounder). Lehtonen was held off the team plane to Colorado for tomorrow's game, only days after he was recalled from his conditioning stint with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.
The trade is pending the completion of Dallas's game in Chicago.
The trade also raised questions about Dallas starter Marty Turco and his status with the team. The goaltender has been rumored to be on the outs with the team, most likely heading to the market on July 1st. With the acquisition of Lehtonen, Turco could very well find himself with a new team before the March 4th trade deadline.
Lehtonen, as stated, was once considered the franchise goalie in Atlanta. Selected 2nd overall in the 2002 entry draft, Lehtonen made the trek from his native Finland at the age of 20, and was in the Thrashers line-up by the time he was 22. In his rookie season in 2005-06, Lehtonen posted respectable numbers, with a 2.97GAA, .906SVP and a 20-15-0 record in 38 games. His numbers improved as his career matured, but the oft injured goaltender faced many roadblocks on his way to becoming a true NHL starter. It came to a head this year, when Lehtonen could not start the year, thanks to shoulder surgery. Add to his status the emergence of Ondrej Pavelec as the new starter in Atlanta, and the 27 year old was clearly the odd-man out.
In return, the Thrashers will replace their 1st round pick with one of Dallas's top prospects (actually ranked #1 in their organization by Hockey's Future, ahead of even Jamie Benn). Ivan Vishnevskiy is a 22 year old defenseman from Russia. One of the few to move to the country at the young age of 18, Vishnevskiy played 3 seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL, putting up nearly a point per game in each year, an impressive feat for a defenseman in any league. Making his pro debut last year with the Peoria Rivermen, Vishnevskiy put up 18 points in 67 games, as well as 2 assists in 3 games with the stars. This year, he has 24 points in 54 games with the Texas Stars of the AHL, and has played 2 games with Dallas.
A good pick up for the Thrashers, essentially picking up a first round pick for a goalie they had no use for as it is. He will make for an excellent partner to Zach Bogosian in the years to come.
Stay tuned to TCL for trades as they break