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Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Lehtonen agrees to $10.65M extension

By Richard Durrett
ESPNDallas.com

Goalie Kari Lehtonen agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $10.65 million with the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

"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," Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said in a statement. "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."

The deal, worth an average of $3.55 million per year, will keep Lehtonen under contract with the Stars through the 2012-13 season.

Lehtonen, 26, was acquired in February by the Stars from the Atlanta Thrashers in a trade for defenseman prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth-round pick.

Lehtonen was 6-4-0 with a 2.81 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage for the Stars.

He didn't play most of the 2009-10 season because he was rehabilitating from two back surgeries. He seemed to play better as he got more comfortable and used to the rigors of an NHL schedule again.

Nieuwendyk said last month the Stars were moving on without longtime netminder Marty Turco, a three-time All-Star who was their top goalie for nine seasons. He said Lehtonen showed enough in 12 games with Dallas to justify letting Turco become a free agent.

Turco just completed a $22.8 million, four-year contract. He holds the franchise records for a goaltender with 509 games, 262 wins and 40 shutouts.

Lehtonen, from Finland, has a 2.87 career GAA and 100 wins. His best full season was 2006-07, when he was 34-24-9 with a 2.79 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

Richard Durrett covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.