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Blues prospect Lehtera turns down ‘seven-figure deal’ to stay in Russia

Jun 5, 2013, 2:26 PM EDT

Jori Lehtera won’t be joining the Blues anytime soon.

Or, possibly ever.

The Finnish prospect — a former SM-liiga MVP that’s spent the last three years playing in Russia — has re-upped with KHL club Sibir Novosibirsk on a two-year deal, according TrueHockey’s Andy Strickland.

“At the end of the day he does not want to play in the NHL,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said. “We offered him a one-way, seven-figure deal.

“Can’t force guys to want to play in the NHL.”

Lehtera, 25, was St. Louis’ third-round pick (65th overall) at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Since then, he’s only made one trek to North America — appearing in seven games with AHL Peoria during the 2008-09 season — while emerging as a dynamic scorer in both Finland and Russia.

Lehtera finished fifth in the KHL in scoring this year (46 points in 52 games) and became something of a viral video sensation with this shootout goal in the KHL All-Star game:

In mid-May, the Post-Dispatch reported Armstrong had been in discussions with Lehtera about coming to St. Louis.

“We talked to him as soon as his (KHL) season ended about coming over,” Armstrong said. “He was off a concussion. We thought about bringing him over to play this year. It just didn’t work out. We’ve talked to him about what his plans are for the summer and next season.

“We’d like to have him. It’s up to him whether he wants to come.”

Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch said Lehtera was “a strong candidate” to make the Blues next season.

  1. kingsforever - Jun 5, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    I would not want to live in STL MIS either

    • jaredphi - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      Although I would not want to live in STL either, it seems like a fine city with nice people.

      I can think of plenty of worse places to live (Alabama, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas)

    • devilsarethebest - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      But you’d definitely want to live in Russia…

  2. 19to77 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Wow. He’s a bigger shootout troll than Datsyuk.

  3. miketoasty - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Why did he even join the draft if he doesn’t want to play in the NHL? I don’t know how these things work (How to enter the draft) but wouldn’t if have saved everyone time and money if he just told whomever is in charge for getting people into the draft, I don’t want to play in the NHL? STL basically has to give up a third round pick because of this.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jun 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      So you complain about the draft but don’t know how the process works?

      • miketoasty - Jun 5, 2013 at 7:44 PM

        Well since people have reading comprehension skills let me explain. I very well understand how draft, draft picks, and the whole situation and how it works. What I am unaware of is though is how certain players are selected, how lesser known players are selected, etc.

        Also, where was I complaining? Im not a blues fan but I know if the Pens drafted a guy that was playing well just decided he didn’t want to play for them I would be a little annoyed as well.

  4. mz1394 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    That goalie just sucks

    • nikk1977 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      Haha!! He totally blows, agreed. Funny.

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