Esa Lindell signed a six-year, $34.8 million contract (average annual value $5.8 million) with the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
The 24-year-old defenseman could have been a restricted free agent July 1 after he had an NHL career-high 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 82 regular-season games, giving the Stars three defensemen (Miro Heiskanen, 12; John Klingberg, 10) with at least 10 goals in one season for the first time in their history. Lindell led Dallas in blocked shots (161), was second in time on ice per game (24:20), third in hits (143), tied for third in plus-minus (plus-14) and tied for fifth in assists (21).
Lindell led Dallas by averaging 26:58 per game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (13 games). The Stars' postseason run ended with a seven-game loss to the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Second Round.
"Esa is a consummate professional who has proven himself dependable in every situation and is just an absolute workhorse," Stars general manager Jim Nill said. "When you combine his strength, conditioning, hockey IQ and skill, he has become an integral part of this team. Along with John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen, the three make up the foundation of a blueline that will not only be a strength for our club, but one that will be as good as any in the NHL for the foreseeable future."
Video: Esa Lindell signs a six year extension with the Stars
Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said, "He's a security blanket. He just does everything right. The way we want to play, he just goes out and executes it."
Lindell has 77 points (24 goals, 53 assists) in 239 NHL games, all with the Stars, who chose him in the third round (No. 74) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
"He's becoming the man for us," Dallas forward and captain Jamie Benn said.
Lindell has represented his native Finland at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, the 2015 and '16 IIHF World Championships, the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2012 Under-18 WJC.