Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced today that the club has signed goaltender Kari Lehtonen to a five-year contract extension worth $29.5 million ($5.9 million per year) through the 2017-18 NHL season.
Lehtonen, 28, concluded his eighth NHL season in 2011-12, earning a 32-22-4 record with a .922 save percentage, a 2.33 goals against average and four shutouts in 59 games. Earlier in the season, he became the first goaltender in Dallas Stars history to win seven consecutive games to start a season and finished the campaign allowing two-or-fewer goals in 37 of his 59 games. He was named the NHL’s Second Star of October after posting an 8-1-0 record with a .947 SV% and a 1.75 GAA.
“Kari Lehtonen has worked extremely hard in his time with the Dallas Stars to establish himself as an elite goaltender in the NHL,” said General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk. “We believe that his best days as a goaltender are ahead, and that his work ethic and leadership will help guide this teaminto a perennial Stanley Cup contender.”
The 6-foot-4, 217-pound goaltender is entering his fourth season as a member of the Dallas Stars. In his time with the team, Lehtonen has tied or set career highs in games played (69), wins (34), save percentage (.922), goals against average (2.33) and minutes played (4,119). He owns two of the top-three franchise records for most saves in a single season (2010-11 & 2011-12), and has the franchise record for most assists in a single season (6 in 2010-11).
The native of Helsinki, Finland, also has extensive experience on the international stage, most recently in the 2012 IIHF World Championships on his native Finnish soil. He appeared in three World Junior Championships, earning a silver medal in 2001, and a pair of bronze medals in 2002 and 2003, respectively. In 2004, he was part of the Finnish team that earned silver at the World Cup of Hockey. He was named the Best Goalkeeper at the 2007 IIHF World Championship after backstopping his country to a silver medal.
Lehtonen was the Atlanta Thrashers’ first round selection (2nd overall) in 2002. He was acquired by Dallas from Atlanta in exchange for Ivan Vishnevskiy and the Stars’ 2010 fourth-round pick on Feb. 9, 2010.