If this morning was any indication, the next two days should be plenty busy as teams race to ink players before the lockout.
One such instance occurred in Dallas, where Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk announced a five-year, $29.5 million contract extension for goalie Kari Lehtonen.
Lehtonen, 28, had one year remaining on the three-year, $10.65 million deal signed in 2010, but it was clear both he and the Stars wanted to ink a long-term extension under the current CBA terms.
The new contract keeps the Finnish netminder in Dallas until 2017-18.
“Kari Lehtonen has worked extremely hard in his time with the Dallas Stars to establish himself as an elite goaltender in the NHL,” Nieuwendyk told the Stars website. “We believe that his best days as a goaltender are ahead, and that his work ethic and leadership will help guide this team into a perennial Stanley Cup contender.”
Lehtonen had one of his finest seasons in 2011-12, finishing with a career-high .922 save percentage and career-low 2.33 GAA. He became the first goalie in franchise history to win seven games to start a season and finished just as strong, allowing two goals or less in 37 of his 59 games.
The new contract means Lehtonen will be paid $5.9 million annually (beginning in 2013-14), putting his average annual value on par with fellow Finns Miikka Kiprusoff ($5.8 million) and Niklas Backstrom ($6 million).
The term should allow highly-touted goaltending prospect Jack Campbell — 20 years old, the 11th overall pick in 2010 — to slowly climb through the ranks and challenge for a starting gig after a few years of seasoning at both the AHL level and as a backup in the NHL.