Stars close to contract extension with Kari Lehtonen
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News is reporting this morning that the Dallas Stars are close to a 3-year contract extension with goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
Lehtonen, a restricted free agent, needed a qualifying offer that at least matched his $3 million salary from last season. With a three-year extension, the Stars would more than meet that requirement and have their goaltender future locked up for the foreseeable future.
While some thought that the Stars might give Lehtonen just a one-year deal, it was expected that after Lehtonen proved himself more than capable in the final months of the season that they would go for a longer commitment.
If the deal is worth anywhere in the $3 to $3.5 million per year range, then the Stars will have a bit more room to try a land a defenseman free agent this summer. Despite the team being up for sale, a sale that hopefully is finalized before the season starts, the Stars are still operating under a tight budget that falls somewhere around $10 million under the salary cap.
The next question is what the Stars might do for a backup. Matt Climie and Brent Krahn, their two goaltenders in the AHL, are both set to become unrestricted free agents this summer.