Lehtera Chooses KHL Over NHL, Will Stay in Russia...Plus Calgary Signs Goalie
The St. Louis Blues were hopeful this would be the year former third round pick Jori Lehtera decided to bring his game over to the NHL. Unfortunately, for the Blues, that won’t happen after sources confirm Lehtera has re-signed with the KHL’s Novosibirsk Sibir for two more seasons.
There was a real opportunity for Lehtera, 25, to be an impact player on the Blues roster next season. The Blues could use a natural playmaking center but ultimately the Blues weren’t going to match the dollars Lehtera can earn in Russia.
A native of Finland, Lehtera is among the highest paid import players in the KHL. He finished fifth overall in KHL scoring last season. Sources would not confirm the salary he’ll make next season but I’m told he’s receiving a substantial raise off of his previous deal which paid him in the neighborhood of $2 million per year.
Lehtera will be 27 at the end of this deal which means the Blues will no longer have his exclusive rights. Sources tell me he does not have a NHL out-clause in his new deal.
The fact Lehtera’s best friend Jonas Enlund is staying with Novosibirsk played a role in him choosing the KHL over the NHL. The money obviously played an even larger role as the difference between what the Blues offered and what he eventually signed for exceeds more than just a few hundred thousand dollars according to someone with firsthand knowledge of the deal.
It goes without saying the Blues are disappointed in this decision. GM Doug Armstrong certainly made a serious effort to get him over here.
“At the end of the day he does not want to play in the NHL. We offered him a one-way seven figure deal. Can’t force guys to want to play in the NHL,” said Armstrong.
In other news the Calgary Flames will soon come to terms on a multi-year contract with goaltender Karri Ramo. The 26 year-old has NHL experience but spent the last four seasons playing with Omsk in the KHL. Ramo was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 6th round back in 2004. The contract cannot be made official until July 5th.
More to come,
The Latest Truth
Post about tonight's Isles-Blues game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more
Berglund Says He's Full of Confidence
Post about tonight's Blues-Kings game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more
Blues Look to Rebound in LA
Post about this afternoon's Blues-Sharks game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more
Post about tonight's Blues-Avs game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more
Post about tonight's Wild/Blues game with your fellow TrueHockey.com fans. Read more