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:
“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.
Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.