Dallas Stars sign Kari Lehtonen to 3-year contract

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

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.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.