There was never anything to worry about when it came to whether Artturi Lehkonen would return to the Colorado Avalanche this season. As a restricted free agent, the Avalanche controlled his rights. Earlier, the Avalanche secured his rights for the next five seasons, signing the 27-year-old Finn to a five-year, $22.5 million deal.
At a cap of $4.5 million, the Avalanche now get pretty good five-year cost certainty for a very good before. We’ve all seen what kind of difference Lehkonen made on a club that won the Stanley Cup. I mean, Joe Sakic absolutely stole it from the Montreal Canadiens (although I still think Justin Barron will be a good defender in Montreal).
What’s wrong with Nazem Kadri now, you ask? I think there is still a chance that he re-signs with the Avalanche. But I think the odds are lower than they were before the market opened at 10am this morning.
The Avs are now at a cap of $4.7 million. That won’t be enough to bring back a Kadri. Colorado should move part of his salary elsewhere.
By the way, Andre Burakovsky and Darcy Kuemper each signed new five-year contracts with Seattle and Washington, respectively. They will each earn more than $5 million per. Farewell, Burky and Kemps.
The Avalanche also re-signed a former goaltender, Jonas Johansson, to a one-year, two-way deal. He is expected to play with the Eagles this season.
Here’s more from Avalanche’s take on Lehkonen’s signing:
Lehkonen, 27, combined with Montreal and Colorado to set career highs in goals (19) and points (38) in 2021-22. Acquired from the Canadiens at the trade deadline, Lehkonen made his Avalanche debut on March 29 in Calgary and had nine points (6g/3y) in 16 regular-season games for the Avalanche.
In the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Lehkonen recorded 14 points (8g/6a) in 20 games, all playoff career highs, and tied for fourth on the team in goals. He led the NHL with four game-winning goals, including the series-clinching goal 79 seconds into overtime to beat the Oilers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals and the game-winning scorer in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay. to secure the Stanley Cup for Colorado. Lehkonen, who also scored the series-clinching goal in overtime for Montreal to send them to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, became the second player in NHL history – and the first in 83 years – to score a goal in overtime to place his team in the Stanley Cup Final several times in his career (Gordie Drillon, game 3 of the 1938 semi-final and game 3 of the 1939 semi-final).
“Artturi was a perfect fit for our team last season and obviously played a vital role in our championship run,” said Avalanche General Manager Chris MacFarland. “He’s incredibly versatile, can play anywhere in the lineup. He’s got a non-stop drive and never takes a shift. He’s really smart, very competitive, knows his role no matter what. Getting the duration and duration of a player of his quality was a top priority during the offseason and we are delighted to have him for the next five years.
Selected by Montreal in the second round (55th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Artturi Lehkonen totaled 158 points (80g/78a) in 412 career NHL games with the Canadiens and Avalanche. He had 26 points (14g/12a) in 53 total playoff games.
Before coming to North America, the 5-foot-11, 179-pound left-winger played two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League from 2014-2016, totaling 49 points (24g/25a) in 96 games for Frolunda and has added 25 points (14g/11a) in a total of 29 playoff games. He led the league in points (19) and goals (11) in the 2016 playoffs to help Frolunda win the SHL Championship. Lehkonen’s 19 points outmoded Daniel Alfredsson will set a Frolunda team record for playoff points in a season.
The native of Piikkio, Finland also played three seasons in Finland’s top professional league (Liiga) from 2011-2014, collecting 54 points (23g/31a) in 96 games for KalPa and TPS.
On the international stage, Artturi Lehkonen helped Finland win gold at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, as alternate captain and recording four points (2g/2a) in six games. He also represented his country at the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, leading the team in assists (6) and points (9) to help Finland win bronze.