Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Kari Lehtonen
Kari Lehtonen was born November 16, 1983 in Helsinki, Finland. The first round, second overall selection of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Lehtonen honed his skills in the Finnish Junior and Elite Leagues before making his North American debut in 2003-04.

The highest-drafted European goaltender in NHL history, Lehtonen is a two-time winner of the Urpo-Ylonen Trophy as the best goaltender in the Finnish Elite League in 2001-02 and 2002-03. A two-time Finnish Elite League All-Star Team member in 2001-02 and 2002-03, Lehtonen was a backup goaltender for Finland at the 2002 and 2003 World Championships and was a three time member of Finlands World Junior Team, capturing two bronze (2002-2003) and one silver (2001). Named the Best Goaltender at the 2002 tournament, Lehtonen also represented his homeland at the 2000 and 2001 World Under-18 Championships.

Over the course of his career in the Finnish Elite League, Lehtonen became the youngest goalie to lead his team to the league championship, when he led Jokerit-Helsinki to the 2002 title. In his final year with Jokerit before coming to North America, Lehtonen set career highs in games (45), wins (23), ties (6), shutouts (5) and minutes (2,635), leading the league in wins with 23 and finished second in shutouts with five.

Coming off an impressive career in Finland, Lehtonen made his North American debut with the Thrahsers AHL affiliate in Chicago in 2003-04, and spent the majority of the season in the Windy City before making his NHL debut with the parent club in the latter stages of the seasons. Lehtonen went 4-0 with one shutout and had a 1.25 GAA in four games with the Thrashers.

After spending his 2004-05 season with the Wolves due to the NHL lockout, Lethonen was called up by the Thrashers to start the 2005-06 season. However, on opening nigh he suffered a serious groin injury which kept him out of the next 35 games. Lehtonen managed to post a respectable 20-15-0 record during his 2005-06 season and looked comfortable between the pipes in Atlanta. The following season the Helsinki native won a personal best 34 games and helped the Thrashers to a Southeastern Division championship.

Lehtonen's time in Atlanta would run out on February 9, 2010 when he was shipped by the Thrashers to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defender Ivan Vishnevskiy.

As a member of the Stars Lehtonen would emerge as one of the NHL's top goaltenders. In 2010-11 he would record 34 wins and an impressive 2.55 goals against average. He would improve on his goals against average the following season, lowering it to a sparkling 2.33.

On September 4, 2012, Lehtonen signed a 5 year extension with the Stars worth $29.5 million.

Lehtonen appeared in 65 games for the Stars during the 2013-14 season, posting a 2.41 goals-against-average and .919 save percentage. He followed that with a career high-equalling 34 wins in 2014-15.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP W L T SO Avg GP W L T SO Avg
1998-99 Jokerit Helsinki U18 Fin-U18 2 4 2 2 0 1.75
1999-00 Jokerit Helsinki Jr. Fin-Jr. 33 21 9 3 2 2.61 12 9 3 4 1.11
1999-00 Finland WJ18-A 6 5 0 1 1 1.76
2000-01 Jokerit Helsinki U18 Fin-U18 6
2000-01 Jokerit Helsinki Jr. Fin-Jr. 31 20 9 1 3 2.37 1 0 1 0 4.44
2000-01 Jokerit Helsinki Finland 4 3 1 0 0 1.90
2000-01 Finland WJC-A 1 1 0 0 0 2.00
2000-01 Finland WJ18-A 4 3 1 0 2 1.76
2001-02 Jokerit Helsinki Jr. Fin-Jr. 6 5 1 0 1 1.83
2001-02 Jokerit Helsinki Finland 23 13 5 2 4 1.78 11 8 2 3 1.73
2001-02 Finland WJC-A 6 4 2 0 1 1.17
2001-02 Finland WC-A
2002-03 Jokerit Helsinki Finland 45 23 14 6 5 1.98 10 6 4 2 1.62
2002-03 Finland WJC-A 6 3 2 1 2 2.19
2002-03 Finland WC-A
2003-04 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 4 4 0 0 1 1.25
2003-04 Chicago Wolves AHL 39 20 14 2 3 2.41 10 6 4 1 2.08
2004-05 Finland W-Cup
2004-05 Chicago Wolves AHL 57 38 17 2 5 2.27 16 10 6 2 1.71
2005-06 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 38 20 15 0 2 2.94
2005-06 Finland Olympics
2006-07 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 68 34 24 9 4 2.79 2 0 2 0 5.59
2006-07 Finland WC-A 6 4 2 0 1 1.93
2007-08 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 48 17 22 5 4 2.90
2007-08 Chicago Wolves AHL 2 2 0 0 0 1.93
2008-09 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 46 19 22 3 3 3.06
2009-10 Dallas Stars NHL 12 6 4 0 0 2.81
2009-10 Chicago Wolves AHL 4 1 1 2 0 2.67
2010-11 Dallas Stars NHL 69 34 24 11 3 2.55
2011-12 Dallas Stars NHL 59 32 22 4 4 2.33
2011-12 Finland WC-A 4 2 2 0 1 2.85
2012-13 Dallas Stars NHL 36 15 14 3 1 2.66
2013-14 Dallas Stars NHL 65 33 20 10 5 2.41 6 2 4 1 3.29
2013-14 Finland Olympics 2 0 1.51
2014-15 Dallas Stars NHL 65 34 17 10 5 2.94
2015-16 Dallas Stars NHL 43 25 10 2 2 2.76 11 6 3 1 2.81
2016-17 Dallas Stars NHL 59 22 25 7 3 2.85
NHL Totals 612 295 219 64 37 2.71 19 8 9 2 3.29


Finnish Elite League First Team All-Star (2002)
Finnish Elite League Best Goaltender (2002)
Finnish Elite League Playoff MVP (2002) AHL Second All-Star Team (2005)
Traded to Dallas by Atlanta for Ivan Vishnevskiy and Dallas' 4th round pick (Ivan Telegin) in 2010 NHL Draft, February 9, 2010.
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