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Blues center Lehtera has successful ankle surgery

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues are hopeful center Jori Lehtera will be available for the start of the regular season after he had successful ankle surgery last week.

It's expected Lehtera will need 6-8 weeks to recover after he had surgery on his right ankle Aug. 4, the Blues said Monday.

Lehtera sustained the injury during the last week of the regular season after taking a puck off his ankle, but he played through it.

"We were hopeful with time the ankle would settle down and be ready," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "[Lehtera] was still sore, and we opted for surgery now so he would be available to us for the regular season."

Lehtera played in the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild, a series Minnesota won in six games. Lehtera missed one game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of a wrist injury sustained near the end of Game 4.

The Blues open the regular season at home Oct. 8 against the Edmonton Oilers. If his recovery takes six weeks, Lehtera would miss 1-2 weeks of training camp, which is scheduled to begin in mid-September.

Lehtera, who on July 1 signed a three-year contract extension reportedly worth $14.1 million that will keep him in St. Louis through the 2018-19 season, began experiencing pain when in skates while training during the summer in his native Finland. The Blues decided surgery was necessary to avoid a prolonged absence.

Lehtera, 27, had 14 goals and 44 points in 75 games in his first NHL season in 2014-15.

Should Lehtera's injury cause him to miss part of the regular season, Robby Fabbri, the Blues' first-round pick (No. 21) at the 2014 NHL Draft, would have a chance to make the roster out of training camp.

The Blues already have David Backes, Paul Stastny and Kyle Brodziak at center. Patrik Berglund, who played on the wing much of last season, could fill the void in the middle if Lehtera misses time during the regular season.

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