Last-Minute Signings: John Carlson, Kari Lehtonen

Carlson: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE. Lehtonen: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE.

With the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, teams are making last-minute signings under the terms of the current CBA, aware of the fact that a new CBA could restrict contract terms in the future.

The Washington Capitals made haste and signed defenseman John Carlson to a six-year contract extension worth $23.8 million. He had just come off the end of his three-year entry-level deal and his salary has taken a huge jump from $787,500 in 2011-12 to almost $4 million a year over the course of the contract.

Last season for Washington, Carlson scored nine goals and added 23 assists for 32 points total. He also had two goals and three assists in the Capitals’ 14-game playoff run. His 32-point output was just below the 37 points he tallied up last season and though it might not be near his stellar 76-point campaign with the OHL London Knights in 2008-09, the NHL is of course a different level than juniors.

“[Carlson] wanted to make a long term commitment to the team and we are delighted that this young man who is an important part of our future will be a member of the club for many years to come,” general manager and team vice president George McPhee said.

Meanwhile in Texas, the Dallas Stars secured goalie Kari Lehtonen for a five-year deal worth $29.5 million. He had one season left on his current three-year deal and would have become an unrestricted free agent at the end of it. He’ll be paid $5.9 million per year, which is a small but notable raise from his $4.25 million salary in 2011-12.

Lehtonen played 59 games for the Stars last season and had a 32-22-4 record with six shutouts, a .921 save percentage and a 2.33 goals-against average. He did miss playing time due to injury. He’s been with the Stars since 2010 and has been the team’s primary goalie since 2010-11, a position he also held with his previous team, the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers.

“We believe that his best days as a goaltender are ahead and that his work ethic and leadership will help guide this team into a perennial Stanley Cup contender,” team general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said.

Other teams may make 11th hour signings, so stay with Rant Sports for more updates.

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