Stars GM Nill on potential Lehtonen-Niemi tandem: 'It’s becoming a two-goalie league'
The Dallas Stars are looking to create a two-headed monster in net.
General manager Jim Nill, whose team ranked 29th in save percentage last season, acquired the rights to impeding unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks at the NHL Draft on Saturday.
Rather than spelling the end of Kari Lehtonen's tenure with the club, Nill appears hopeful that Niemi - if and when signed - can push the incumbent to find his game while also stabilizing a big area of need.
"Kari’s still an elite goalie. I really think it’s becoming a two-goalie league now," Nill told Mike Heika of the The Dallas Morning News. "Kari’s the first one to admit he had a tough year last year. He’s going to bounce back. He’s been working on changing his conditioning over the summer, and competition’s healthy."
Despite the fact Lehtonen is set to make $5.9 million per season through to the end of 2017-18, Nill doesn't appear concerned about further tying up cap space if the Stars can agree to terms with Niemi.
"We have cap room right now," he said. "We knew we had to improve this position, so we went this direction."
In 2013-14, Lehtonen, 31, posted a record of 34-17-10, with a save percentage of .903, while Niemi, also 31, went 31-23-7 with a .914 save percentage.
The latter can test the open market as early as July 1 if he's not amenable to a deal with Dallas.