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Dallas Stars sign Kari Lehtonen to 3-year contract

May 11, 2010, 4:33 PM EDT

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The Dallas Stars have announced they have signed goaltender Kari Lehtonen to a three-year contract extension, worth $10.65 million and $3.55 million a season.

It’s likely, as it is with the other contracts Joe Nieuwendyk has handed out lately, that the deal is backloaded to alleviate some of the stress on the Stars’ limited payroll.

Here’s the press release:

Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced
today that the hockey club and goaltender Kari Lehtonen have agreed to
terms on a three-year contract extension worth $10.65 million ($3.55
million per year average). This extension will put Lehtonen under
contract through the 2012-13 season.

“We were excited to acquire Kari Lehtonen in February because of his
size, skill and potential to once again be a top-tier goaltender in this
league,” Nieuwendyk said. “His play during the last month of the season
reaffirmed our belief that he can be our starter for next year and
seasons to come. We’re very happy to agree to terms with Kari on this
contract extension.”

Lehtonen, 26, posted a 6-3-0 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .926 save
percentage over his last nine games for the Stars this season. He played
in 12 total games with Dallas, going 6-4-0 with a 2.81 GAA and a .911
save percentage in 2009-10 for Dallas. The 6-4, 215-pound goaltender’s
best season came in 2006-07 when he led the Thrashers to their first
Southeast division title. He went 34-24-9 including four shutouts with a
2.79 GAA and a .912 save percentage. Lehtonen was acquired via trade
with the Atlanta Thrashers on February 9, 2010 in exchange for Ivan
Vishnevskiy and Dallas’ fourth round draft choice in the 2010 NHL Entry
Draft.

The native of Helsinki, Finland, has played in 216 career NHL games,
posting a 100-87-17 record with a 2.87 GAA and a .912 save percentage.
He was drafted second overall by Atlanta in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

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