The Colorado Avalanche have extended restricted free agent Artturi Lehkonen, signing the winger to a five-year contract that will carry an average annual value of $4.5MM. Since he was just one year away from unrestricted free agency, the lucrative extension buys out four UFA years and keeps Lehkonen in Colorado through the 2026-27 season.
New Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland released the following statement:
Artturi was a great fit to our team last season and obviously played an essential role in our championship run. 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.
When MacFarland says Lehkonen played an essential role in the Stanley Cup run, he isn’t kidding. The 27-year-old scored eight goals in 20 games, four of them game-winners, including the Cup-deciding tally in game six of the Final. The Finnish winger is probably not going to reach elite offensive totals over the next five years but he’ll be one of the most important pieces if the Avalanche are to challenge for another championship. His penalty-killing ability, physicality, and hockey sense allow the team to put him in basically any situation without worrying about the defensive end of the ice, freeing up the team’s more offensive players to drive the play.
With Lehkonen, Valeri Nichushkin, Josh Manson, Darren Helm, and Andrew Cogliano all brought back, the Avalanche will once again have a very impressive group to push for the Central Division crown and potentially another Stanley Cup.
This makes MacKinnon very happy. :)
So, does this leave Kadri, Burakovsky, and Sturm as the Avs free agents that won’t be returning?
Burakovsky to Seattle, Sturm is not a loss and Kadri priced himself out of returning. The Avs will be ok.
Sturm to San Jose at probably twice what the Avs should spend on him.