‘Who the @#$%^ Is This Guy?’ Stars’ Hero Joel Kiviranta, That’s Who

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It’s been more than a decade since Jere Lehtinen has scored a goal for the Dallas Stars, 17 years since he’s won a Selke Trophy and 21 years since he helped the organization win its first and only Stanley Cup. But the organization might want to find a way to add another assist to the 293 he recorded in the regular season and the playoffs over his 14-year career in Dallas. Or maybe even three.

It was Lehtinen, in his capacity as the GM of Finland’s national team, who tipped the Stars off to a relatively unknown player by the name of Joel Kiviranta last season. The Stars are obviously good listeners. They heeded Lehtinen’s advice, sent pro scouts Paul McIntosh, Craig Bonner and Les Jackson to some international tournaments to watch him play, then convinced him to sign with Dallas shortly after he won a gold medal for his country at the World Championship in 2019. And that decision paid off in an enormous way when the 24-year-old Kiviranta scored a hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, in Game 7 of their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche.