Locking up Niemi doesn’t mean Kari Lehtonen is going anywhere, even coming off a down season. Stars GM Jim Nill said his thought process on acquiring and then signing Niemi was to solidify the goaltending position.
“Kari is still an elite goalie,” Nill said on Saturday after the NHL Draft. “We just, we’re in a tough situation with our travel. We have as much travel as anybody in the league and back-to-back games.
"I really think it’s becoming a two-goalie league now You look around the league, the teams that have a lot of success, it’s because of two goalies and the pressure to win. Injuries. We have cap room right now. We know we have to improve this position and we went this direction.”
Nill is right in that the Stars have some rough travel. Looking at Dirk Hoag’s great Super Schedule from last season, Dallas traveled the second-most miles in the NHL (48,216) and played 12 back-to-backs. Bringing in an experienced 1a in Niemi will, in his mind, alleviate any extra risk of overworking Lehtonen and preventing injury.
“You lose a goalie and don't have a good person to bring in to fill that position,” said Nill, “3-4 wins could be the difference in making the playoffs or missing it.”
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