Nashville Predators Executive Vice President/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Mikko and forward Daniel Widing to one-year contracts.
Lehtonen, 26 (6/21/79), posted 14 points (6g-8a) and 46 penalty minutes in 43 games with Karpat of the Finnish Elite League last season. The 6-1, 194-pound Oulu, Finland native led Karpat blueliners in scoring (11g-17a-28pts) in 2004-05 and helped the club capture the Finnish Elite League championship in 2004 and 2005. Lehtonen, Nashville's ninth choice, 271st overall (ninth round), in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, ranked second in points (1g-4a-5pts in 9gp) among defensemen on Team Finland at the 2006 World Championships and helped lead his country to a bronze medal in thetournament.
"Mikko is a mature, smooth skating defenseman with a lot of
experience in the Finnish Elite League," said Paul Fenton, the Predators' Director of Player Personnel. "We have seen him progress from the day that we drafted him, and believe it is his time to come over and try to earn a position with the Nashville Predators. Mikko is at an age right now where he is capable of making it to the next level and this is his opportunity to come over and try to complete his dream of playing in the National Hockey League."
Widing, 24 (4/13/82), played in both Finland and Sweden in 2005-06, posting 12 points (5g-7a) in 38 games with TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League before returning to his hometown for 11 games with Brynas IF Gavle. The 6-1, 202-pound forward set a career high in goals (13), assists (15) and points (28) in 2004-05 with Pelicans Lahti of the Finnish Elite League. Widing was Nashville's second selection, 36th overall (second round), in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
"Daniel is a typical Predator in his desire, work ethic, attitude and
never-say-die type of game," said Fenton. "He has matured over the years in the elite leagues in Europe and now he has an opportunity to come over take his game to the next level."