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.
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When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
Kane also tied Denis Savard (1985-86) for second-longest streak in Chicago history. Bobby Hull had a 21-game streak.