Tomas Fleischmann, Kari Lehtonen

Dallas welcomes back Lehtonen tomorrow night

Kari Lehtonen is back.

The Dallas goalie — who hasn’t played since Nov. 26 due to a groin injury — will make his return to the ice on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, according to the team’s official website.

“Lehtonen is ready to go,” Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said. “[He] will get the start tomorrow night.”

Losers in three of their last five, the Stars will welcome Lehtonen back with open arms. Rookie netminder Richard Bachman has been impressive in relief, but shown recent signs of burnout. Bachman made his eighth consecutive start on Monday against St. Louis and was yanked after allowing three goals on 25 shots.

“You hate to let your teammates down and I know I had to have some of those,” Bachman said afterward. “they were goals that changed the momentum, and that hurts.”

Speaking of momentum, Lehtonen’s return could provide a major swing. He was Dallas’ unquestioned MVP through the first quarter of the season and on many shortlists for league MVP. At the time of his injury, the 28-year-old Finn was 13-4-1 with a 2.34 GAA and .926 save percentage — a big reason why Dallas stood atop the Pacific Division for most of October and November.

How Gulutzan works his No. 1 goalie back into the lineup will be intriguing. Lehtonen has been injury-prone throughout his career, yet was ridden exceptionally hard (there’s gotta be a better way to say that) early in the season.

Lehtonen was the goalie of record in 13 of Dallas’ first 15 games, though that might’ve party been due to Gulutzan’s lack of trust in then-backup Andrew Raycroft, who has since been put on waivers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit
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What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.