There was never anything to worry about when it came to the question of whether Artturi Lehkonen coming back to the Colorado Avalanche this coming season. As a restricted free agent, the Avalanche controlled his rights. Just now, 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 $4.5 million cap hit, the Avalanche now get pretty nice cost certainty for five years for a very good forward. We all saw what kind of different Lehkonen made on a club that won a Stanley Cup. I mean, Joe Sakic absolutely stole him from the Montreal Canadiens (though I still think Justin Barron will be a good defenseman in Montreal).
What’s the deal with Nazem Kadri now, you ask? I think there’s still a chance he might re-sign with the Avalanche. But I think the chances are smaller than they were before the market opened at 10 this morning.
The Avs are down to $4.7 million in cap room now. That’s not going to be enough to bring back a Kadri. Colorado would have to move some salary elsewhere.
By the way, Andre Burakovsky and Darcy Kuemper each signed new five-year contracts with Seattle and Washington, respectively. They’ll each be making more than $5 million per. Adieu, Burky and Kemps.
The Avalanche also re-signed a former goalie of theirs, Jonas Johansson, to a one-year, two-way deal. He is expected to play with the Eagles this coming season.
Here is more from the Avalanche release on the Lehkonen 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 at Calgary and recorded nine points (6g/3a) in 16 regular-season contests for the Avalanche.
In the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Lehkonen recorded 14 points (8g/6a) in 20 games, all postseason career highs, and finished 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 Final and the game-winning marker in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against Tampa Bay to secure the Stanley Cup for Colorado. Lehkonen, who also netted the series-clinching OT goal for Montreal to send them to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, became the second player in NHL history—and first in 83 years—to score an overtime goal to put his team into the Stanley Cup Final multiple times in his career (Gordie Drillon, Game 3 of the 1938 Semifinal and Game 3 of the 1939 Semifinal).
“Artturi was a great fit to our team last season and obviously played an essential role in our championship run,” said Avalanche General Manager Chris MacFarland. “He is incredibly versatile, can play anywhere up and down the lineup. He has a non-stop motor and never takes a shift off. He’s really smart, highly competitive, knows his role no matter what is asked of him. Getting length and term for a player of his quality was a top offseason priority and we’re thrilled to have him for the next five years.”
Selected by Montreal in the second round (55th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Artturi Lehkonen has totaled 158 points (80g/78a) in 412 career NHL contests with the Canadiens and Avalanche. He has collected 26 points (14g/12a) in 53 total playoff contests.
Prior to coming to North America, the 5-foot-11, 179-pound left wing played two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League from 2014-16, totaling 49 points (24g/25a) in 96 contests for Frolunda and added 25 points (14g/11a) in a combined 29 playoff games. He paced the league in playoff points (19) and goals (11) in 2016 to help Frolunda capture the SHL championship. Lehkonen’s 19 points surpassed Daniel Alfredsson to set a Frolunda team record for playoff points in a season.
The Piikkio, Finland, native also played three seasons in Finland’s top professional league (Liiga) from 2011-14, collecting 54 points (23g/31a) in 96 contests for KalPa and TPS.
Internationally, Artturi Lehkonen helped Finland capture gold at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, serving as an alternate captain and recording four points (2g/2a) in six games. He also represented his country at the 2013 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, leading the team in assists (6) and points (9) to help Finland win bronze.