When the St. Louis Blues selected Jori Lehtera with their third-round pick at the 2008 NHL Draft, an element of the unknown followed the Finnish-born center, one that had nothing to do with his on-ice skills.
The looming question was whether the Blues could get Lehtera to North America.
Lehtera, 26, made impressive strides at the international level as well as playing for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and Sibir Novosibirsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Ultimately, he turned out to be the wild-card free agent signing that nobody in St. Louis saw coming.
When Blues general manager Doug Armstrong attempted to get Lehtera to the NHL before the 2013-14 season and was turned down, it was viewed as a possible last-gasp attempt to bring him to St. Louis.