19. Kari Lehtonen
The Dallas Stars signing Ben Bishop was as clear a sign as any that they had moved on from Kari Lehtonen, their starter since the 2010-11 season. They entered the season as the second-worst team in goals against and finished it as the seventh best. But they still failed to make the playoffs because of a late-season slump.
While Bishop started the majority of the Stars’ games, Lehtonen still got 30 starts and posted a save percentage above .910 for the first time since 2013-14. Nonetheless, he was still on shaky ground for the entire season and he was largely responsible for their 1-10 March stretch when he had to fill in for an injured Bishop. That undoubtedly sunk his value, and it’s unclear if he wants to return to being in a timeshare.
Why he’s in demand: Lehtonen is likely to be a back-up next season, or a 1B, but there is a market for that. Just last season, Steve Mason got signed to a $4.1 million deal even though the Winnipeg Jets knew Connor Hellebuyck was their guy. And while they didn’t anticipate him having as difficult of a season as he did, that deal was just another example of how inflated goalie contracts can get during free agency.
Ignoring all that, there aren’t many teams that won’t take 15 wins and a .912 save percentage from their second option.
Teams with the best chance to sign him: If Lehtonen re-signs with the Stars, it would have to be on a very generous one-year deal. If they don’t bring back Khudobin, the Bruins could be a potentially friendly situation for him if it means playing with a compatriot and occasionally taking the pressure off Tuukka Rask. And considering how much the Senators’ goalies under-performed last season, they should consider taking a flyer on Lehtonen too.