Stars lean heavily on Lehtonen

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Much of the optimism surrounding the Dallas Stars focuses on a bright future. If you’re looking for reasons to feel positive about the present, you’d likely be best served to start in net.

Quiet Star

It’s strange to call the second pick of a draft* an “under the radar” player, but that seems appropriate for Stars’ franchise guy Kari Lehtonen.

The 29-year-old has dazzled at times between his days with the Stars and Atlanta Thrashers, yet he has just two playoff games on his resume. Injuries and weak supporting casts have mired him in relative obscurity despite¬†putting up nice numbers. (He’s had at least a .911 save percentage since the 2006-07 season.)

For the last few seasons, the Stars’ fate has been tied to Lehtonen’s play, and that will likely remain the same in 2013-14.

On the bright side, Dallas finally gave him a capable backup in Dan Ellis.

Dan Ellis problem solver

The 33-year-old might be best remembered for generating an Internet meme or two, but he’s an experienced No. 2 guy who isn’t likely to generate many goalie controversies. Think of him as the Martin Biron to Lehtonen’s Henrik Lundqvist.

While the Stars’ defense seems like it could be strong in the big picture, it’s probable that the franchise will hope that its goalies can clean up messes most nights next season. The good news is that they have a duo with a strong chance of getting that done.

* – Lehtonen went No. 2 in 2002, behind Rick Nash and right before Jay Bouwmeester.

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