Sept 14 (Reuters) - Several teams rushed to sign players to
new contracts on Friday with the current collective bargaining
agreement set to expire on the weekend and the National Hockey
League (NHL) threatening a lockout.
The Dallas Stars solidified their netminding by signing Kari
Lehtonen to five-year, $29.5 million contract extension making
the Finn one of the NHL's highest paid goalkeepers at nearly $6
million a season.
"Kari Lehtonen has worked extremely hard in his time with
the Dallas Stars to establish himself as an elite goaltender in
the NHL," Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said in a
"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."
Taken second overall by Atlanta in the 2002 NHL draft,
Lehtonen spent five seasons with the Thrashers before being
traded to Dallas in 2010.
In 344 career games, the 28-year-old netminder has a record
of 166-133-32 with 21 shutouts and a 2.71 goals against average.
The Washington Capitals re-signed 22-year-old defenseman
John Carlson to a six-year $23.8 million deal. Carlson, taken in
the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft by Washington, recorded 32
points last season and a career-high nine goals.
Trying to fill a hole on their blueline left by the
retirement of All-Star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, the Detroit
Red Wings signed free agent Carlo Colaiacovo to a two-year deal.
In nine seasons split between the Toronto Maple Leafs and
St. Louis Blues, Colaiacovo has 30 goals and 139 points.
Detroit also re-signed forward Justin Abdelkader to a
If the NHL and union representing its players fail to reach
a new labor agreement before the current pact expires at 12:01
a.m. (0401 GMT) on Sunday, teams will not be able to make any
signings or personnel moves until a new CBA is reached.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank