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Avalanche bring back Lehkonen, Manson, Helm

Colorado Avalanche Artturi Lehkonen celebrates goal Artturi Lehkonen celebrates goal - The Canadian Press

The Colorado Avalanche have signed forward Artturi Lehkonen to a five-year contract with an average annual value of $4.5 million, according to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun.

The 26-year-old played in 74 games last season, scoring 19 goals and registering 38 points between the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche.

Lehkonen was taken by the Canadiens with the 55th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, and he made his debut with the team in the 2016-17 season. He is a consistent presence on the ice, having played at least 75 per cent of his team’s games since first making the NHL roster six seasons ago.

Lehkonen had played every season of his career for the Canadiens, until he was traded to the Avalanche in March of 2022 for Justin Barron and a future second-round draft pick.

He played last season under a one-year, $2.3 million contract.

The native of Finland has 80 goals and 158 points in his 412 career NHL games.

In earlier news, the Avs re-signed defenceman Josh Manson and forward Darren Helm ahead of the opening of free agency on Wednesday. 

Manson is re-signing on a four-year deal with a $4.5 million cap hit, while Helm is sticking around on a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

The 30-year-old Manson scored six goals and had 16 points in 67 games last season split between the Anaheim Ducks and Avalanche.

A sixth-round pick (160th overall) by the Ducks at the 2011 NHL Draft, Manson spent eight and a half seasons with Anaheim before being dealt to the Avalanche in March 2022.

He is coming off a four-year, $16.4 million contract with an average annual value of $4.1 million.

The Hinsdale, Ill., native has 28 goals and 120 points in 475 career NHL games.

Meanwhile, Helm, 35, had seven goals and 15 points in 68 regular season games with the Avalanche in 2021-22. In the playoffs, he had two goals and five points as Colorado won the Stanley Cup. 

A fifth-round pick (132nd overall) by the Detroit Red Wings at the 2005 NHL Draft, Helm won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008. He signed a one-year deal with the Avalanche in July 2021 as a free agent. 

Internationally, he won gold with Team Canada at the 2007 World Juniors. 

The St. Andrews, Man. product has 119 goals and 266 points in 812 career NHL games and 13 goals and 26 points in 102 playoff games.