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Stars close to contract extension with Kari Lehtonen

May 11, 2010, 10:45 AM EDT

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Lehtonen.jpgMike
Heika of the Dallas Morning News is reporting this morning
that the
Dallas Stars are close to a 3-year contract extension with goaltender
Kari Lehtonen.

Lehtonen, a restricted free agent, needed a
qualifying offer that at least matched his $3 million salary from last
season. With a three-year extension, the Stars would more than meet that
requirement and have their goaltender future locked up for the
foreseeable future.

While some thought that the Stars might give
Lehtonen just a one-year deal, it was expected that after Lehtonen
proved himself more than capable in the final months of the season that
they would go for a longer commitment.

If the deal is worth
anywhere in the $3 to $3.5 million per year range, then the Stars will
have a bit more room to try a land a defenseman free agent this summer.
Despite the team being up for sale, a sale that hopefully is finalized
before the season starts, the Stars are still operating under a tight
budget that falls somewhere around $10 million under the salary cap.

The
next question is what the Stars might do for a backup. Matt Climie and
Brent Krahn, their two goaltenders in the AHL, are both set to become
unrestricted free agents this summer.

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