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Jori Lehtera Era Starts In St. Louis: Blues Ink 2008 Draft Pick

You could be forgiven if you've forgotten about Lehtera, but the Blues haven't forgotten about him.

Finland's forward Jori Lehtera celebrates a goal during a semifinal game Czech Republic vs Finland of the IIHF International Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk on May 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV
Finland's forward Jori Lehtera celebrates a goal during a semifinal game Czech Republic vs Finland of the IIHF International Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk on May 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV
Alexander Nemenov

Way back in the third round of 2008, the Blues drafted Finnish player Jori Lehtera. Lehtera opted to stay in Europe and play in the KHL, for both Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and Sibir Novosibirsk. As he developed in the KHL, he acquired a scoring touch; last season for Sibir he had 12 goals and 32 assists at center.

That's not bad. Whether or not that scoring touch finally translates to the NHL remains to be seen (as does if he'll be starting the season with the Blues), but those kind of numbers put him at third-line center. In a logical world, that may mean a switch to wing for Vladimir Sobotka with Patrik Berglund on Lehtera's other side.

The roster is getting full, which is signaling that the Blues may finally be parting ways with Adam Cracknell and that the Steve Ott talks aren't really going anywhere (Brenden Morrow leaving was a given). Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin will have to impress during camp to make the line-up this season if Lehtera does in fact elect to play for the Blues this year.

From what Doug Armstrong has said, it sounds like the Olympic bronze medal winner and KHL all-star will be playing in St. Louis for the next two seasons:

"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."

Let the roster wars begin.