ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has signed forward Jori Lehtera to a two-year contract.
“We are excited to bring Jori to the NHL during the prime of his career,” said Armstrong. “His top-level skill has not only allowed him to be one of the KHL’s top point producers over the past few seasons, but enabled him to excel against the world’s best players at both the 2014 Olympics and numerous other World Championships.”
Lehtera, 26, has been in the Blues’ system since 2008, when he was drafted by the club in the third round (65th overall) of the NHL Draft.
Last season, Lehtera served as an assistant captain with Sibir Novosibirsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), leading the club with 44 points (12 goals, 32 assists) in 48 regular season games. In addition, he tied for the team lead with six points (six assists) in 10 postseason appearances.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward has spent the majority professional career in Europe, including three seasons with Tappara (2007-10) of Finland’s top professional league (Liiga), as well as the past four seasons in the KHL, between Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and Novosibirsk.
In 2008-09, he made a brief stint with the Blues’ then American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, tallying one assist in seven regular season games, and a goal and an assist in seven playoff games.
In 2009-10, his third professional season, Lehtera led all Liiga players with 69 points and 50 assists, earning the League’s Lasse Oksanen Award (best player in the regular season), as well as Liiga All-Star Team honors.
The Helsinki, Finland native then moved on to the KHL in 2010-11, where he logged 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 53 games in his lone season with Yaroslavl, helping the club reach the league’s Conference Finals. Since joining Novosibirsk in 2011-12, Lehtera has gone on to appear in back-to-back KHL All-Star Games in 2012-13 and 2013-14, leading his team in points during both campaigns.
Internationally, Lehtera has represented Finland multiple times during his career, including twice this past season. First, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, he posted four points (one goal, three assists) in six games, earning a bronze medal. Then, at the 2014 World Championships, Lehtera served as an assistant captain, leading the club with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 10 games, en route to capturing a silver medal.