Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thrashers Agree to Terms with Restricted Free Agent Goaltender Kari Lehtonen

The Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to terms with restricted free agent goaltender Kari Lehtonen, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lehtonen, 24, appeared in 48 games with the Thrashers last season, posting a 17-22-5 record, with a career-high tying four shutouts, a 2.90 goals-against average and a franchise-record .916 save percentage. The 6-4, 205-pound goaltender also appeared in two games during a conditioning assignment with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League after missing 16 games due to injury. He earned a 2-0-0 record with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in Chicago.

The Helsinki, Finland native has appeared in 158 career games with the Thrashers, earning a 75-61-14 record with 11 shutouts, a 2.82 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. He is the Thrashers all-time leader in games played (158), wins (75), shutouts (11) and save percentage (.913), and ranks second in franchise history in goals-against average (2.82). He appeared in two Stanley Cup Playoff games during the 2006-07 season.

Lehtonen has also appeared in 98 games with the Chicago Wolves, posting a 60-31-4 record with eight shutouts, a 2.32 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He has registered a 16-10 record in 26 Calder Cup Playoff games and helped backstop the Wolves to the Calder Cup Finals during the 2004-05 campaign.

Prior to his North American career, Lehtonen played with Jokerit Helsinki in the Finish Elite League from 2000-2003, posting a 39-19-8 record with nine shutouts and a 1.92 goals-against average. He was a two-time winner of the Urpo-Ylonen Trophy as the league’s top goaltender and was named the Most Valuable Player of the post-season while leading his team to the Finish Elite League Championship in 2001-02, as the league’s youngest goaltender, at age 18.

Lehtonen was selected by the Thrashers in the first round, second overall, of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

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