Artturi Lehkonen signs five-year deal to stay with Colorado Avalanche

A look at where some former Canadiens, including Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak, will be playing next season as NHL free-agency period opens.

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After scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal for Colorado, Artturi Lehkonen will be staying with the Avalanche, agreeing to a five-year contract Wednesday worth US$22.5 million.

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The Avalanche acquired Lehkonen from the Canadiens at the NHL trade deadline on March 21 in exchange for defenceman Justin Barron and a second-round pick at the 2024 NHL Draft.

After posting 13-16-29 totals in 58 games with the Canadiens, Lehkonen had 6-3-9 totals in 16 regular-season games with the Avalanche and added 8-6-14 totals in 20 playoff games. Lehkonen scored the winning goal when the Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final to win the best-of-seven series.

Lehkonen, 27, was a restricted free agent and his new contract has an annual salary-cap hit of $4.5 million, a significant raise from the $2.4 million he earned in each of the last two seasons. The Canadiens selected Lehkonen in the second round (55th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.

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“Artturi was a great fit to our team last season and obviously played an essential role in our championship run,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said on the team’s website. “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.”

Here’s a look at where some other former Canadiens signed Wednesday as the NHL free-agent period began.

Ben Chiarot

The 31-year-old defenceman signed a four-year, US$19-million contract with the Detroit Red Wings that has an annual salary-cap hit of $4.75 million.

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The Canadiens dealt Chiarot to the Florida Panthers on March 16 in exchange for forward prospect Ty Smilanic, a fourth-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft (left-winger Cedrick Guindon) and a first-round draft pick in 2023.

Chiarot had 7-11-18 totals in 54 games with the Canadiens before being traded to the Panthers. With Florida, he had 2-6-8 totals in 20 regular-season games and 0-1-1 totals in 10 playoff games.

Chiarot was coming off a three-year, US$10.5 million contract with a salary-cap hit of $3.5 million.

Brett Kulak

The 28-year-old defenceman signed a four-year, $11-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $2.75 million to stay with his hometown Edmonton Oilers.

The Canadiens dealt Kulak to the Oilers at the NHL trade deadline this season in exchange for defenceman William Lagesson, a second-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft (Lane Hutson) and a seventh-round pick in 2024.

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In 56 games last season with the Canadiens, Kulak had 3-10-13 totals. He had 2-6-8 totals in 18 regular-season games with the Oilers and 0-5-5 totals in 16 playoff games.

Mikhail Sergachev

The 24-year-old defenceman will be staying in Tampa after signing an eight-year, US$68-million contract extension with an annual salary-cap hit of $8.5 million.

Sergachev has one season remaining on his three-year, US$14.4-million contract with a salary-cap hit of $4.8 million. The new deal takes him through the 2030-31 season.

The Canadiens traded Sergachev to the Lightning on June 15, 2017 in exchange for Jonathan Drouin.

In 78 regular-season games last season, Sergachev had 7-31-38 totals and he added 2-8-10 totals in 23 playoff games. Sergachev already has two Stanley Cup rings with the Lightning.

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Eric Staal

The 37-year-old centre, who was part of the Canadiens’ journey to the Stanley Cup final in 2021 after being acquired before the NHL trade deadline, signed a one-year, US$750,000 contract with the Panthers.

Staal’s brother Marc, a 35-year-old defenceman, signed an identical contract with the Panthers on Wednesday.

Staal played four games with the AHL’s Iowa Wild last season, posting 2-3-5 totals.

The Canadiens acquired Staal from the Buffalo Sabres ahead of the 2021 NHL trade deadline in exchange for a third-round pick (left-winger Josh Bloom) and a fifth-round pick (left-winger Viljami Mariala) at the 2021 NHL Draft.

Erik Gustafsson

The 30-year-old defenceman, who was also part of the Canadiens’ run to the Stanley Cup final last year after being acquired before the NHL trade deadline, signed a one-year, US$800,000 contract with the Washington Capitals.

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In 59 games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, Gustafsson had 3-15-18 totals.

Max Domi

The 27-year-old forward signed a one-year, US$3-million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Domi will be entering his eighth NHL season and the Blackhawks will be his fifth team after stints with the Arizona Coyotes, Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurrianes.

The Canadiens traded Domi to the Coyotes on June 15, 2018 in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk.

In 72 games last season split between the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes, Domi had 11-28-39 totals. In 14 playoff games with the Hurricanes, Domi had 3-3-6 totals.

Domi’s best NHL season was with the Canadiens in 2018-19 when he had 28-44-72 totals while playing in all 82 games.

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Charlie Lindgren

The 28-year-old goalie signed a three-year, US$3.3-million contract with the Capitals.

Last summer, Lindgren signed a one-year, US$750,000 contract with the St. Louis Blues and spent most of last season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, where he had a 24-7-1 record with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

Lindgren played five games with the Blues and had a 5-0 record with a 1.22 GAA and a .958 save percentage.

Nicolas Deslauriers

The 31-year-old left-winger signed a four-year, US$7-million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, who were obviously looking for some toughness.

In 81 games last season split between the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Deslauriers had 8-5-13 totals and 113 penalty minutes.

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Deslauriers’s new contract has a $1.75 million salary-cap hit after he earned $1 million in each of the last two seasons.

Deslauriers spent two seasons with the Canadiens before being traded to the Ducks on June 30, 2019 in exchange for a fourth-round pick at the 2020 NHL Draft.

Charles Hudon

The 28-year-old left-winger signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Avalanche that will pay him US$750,000 in the NHL and US$400,000 in the AHL.

Last season, Hudon had 30-27-57 totals in 66 games with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.

Hudon left the Canadiens after the 2019-20 season and played one year in Switzerland with Lausanne before returning to North America and signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Lightning and playing for Syracuse.

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Jaroslav Halak

Remember him?

The 37-year-old goalie will return for his 17th NHL season after signing a one-year, US$1.55-million contract with the New York Rangers.

Less than a month after helping the Canadiens reach the Eastern Conference final in 2010 — posting a 9-9 record with a 2.55 GAA and a .923 save percentage — Halak was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. That basically handed the No. 1 goalie job to Carey Price, which he has held ever since.

Last season, Halak had a 4-7-2 record with the Vancouver Canucks, to go along with a 2.94 GAA and a .903 save percentage.

Dustin Tokarski

Remember him?

The 32-year-old goalie signed a one-year, US$750,000 contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Tokarski played five playoff games with the Canadiens in 2014 after Price was injured, posting a 2-3-0 record with a 2.60 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Tokarski replaced Price after he suffered a knee injury in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final when the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider crashed into him. The Rangers went on to win the best-of-seven series in six games.

Last season, Tokarski had a 10-12-5 record in 29 games with the Buffalo Sabres, along with a 3.27 GAA and a .899 save percentage.

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