Stars' Jere Lehtinen still unsure about his playing future

jerelehtinen1.jpgWhen you think of legendary and noteworthy Dallas Stars, most thoughts turn to the recently departed to Detroit Mike Modano or to goalies Ed Belfour or Marty Turco. One name that doesn’t get brought up too often but should be on the tip of Stars fans’ tongues is Jere Lehtinen. Lehtinen has battled with injuries the last few seasons but he was a staple of the Stars successful teams from the past transitioning from scorer to defending forward seamlessly later on.

ESPN Dallas’ Mark Stepneski did some digging with Stars goalie and Finnish countryman Kari Lehtonen to see what, if anything, was up with Lehtinen.

“I saw him back in Finland and we talked once in a while. He’s a mystery man. No one knows what’s going on,” said Lehtonen, who spent a couple weeks in Finland this summer. “Everybody is trying to push him to come back. He’s one of those guys that everybody just gets energy from. He always gives everything, whether it is practice or a game. Hopefully we can get him back.”

Could the Stars use Lehtinen back if he’s fully healthy? Sure, as long as he was OK with playing on the third or fourth line. Lehtinen has been with the Stars since the 1995-1996 season and he’s as much a part of that team as anyone has been since the team moved from Minnesota. That said, getting playing time won’t be totally guaranteed.

Dallas is loaded with 13 forwards and that’s even before counting in restricted free agent James Neal who has yet to re-sign with the team. With Neal eventually returning and if Lehtinen wanted to come back, some roster juggling would be in order at forward. The Stars don’t have salary cap problems but with their ownership up in the air, they are dealing with an internal budget. A return by Lehtinen would likely come at a reduced cost.

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    Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

    James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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    Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

    Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

    From the club:

    Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

    Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

    This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

    Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

    Jordan Weal to make NHL debut for Kings

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    Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.

    Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.

    A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.

    “It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”

    The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.

    Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap