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
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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    Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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    It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

    Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

    Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
    Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

    This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

    The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

    This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

    And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

    Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

    The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

    Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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    John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

    Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

    First, take a look at the hit:

    Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

    Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

    Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

    It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

    Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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    Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

    For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

    The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

    Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

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    This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

    On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

    William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

    Hnnngmgghh indeed.

    That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

    Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.