Kari Lehtonen (born November 16, 1983) is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected second overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, becoming the highest-drafted European goaltender as well as the highest Finnish player ever in NHL history.
Kari Lehtonen was drafted second overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers after an outstanding 2001–02 season in the Finnish SM-liiga. Lehtonen was the backup goalie for Jokerit, but captured the starting position and won the Urpo Ylönen trophy, given to the best goalie of the season, and the league's playoff MVP award, the Jari Kurri trophy. Lehtonen stayed with Jokerit for one more season before crossing the sea.
During the 2003–04 NHL season, Lehtonen mostly spent his time with the Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, but he was called up for a number of occasions and played four games for the Thrashers, winning all four of them and posting one shutout. After posting a .953 save percentage and 1.25 goals against average (GAA), Lehtonen spent the majority of the year in the AHL.