ST. LOUIS — The Blues opened the free agency period by signing center Jori Lehtera, their third-round draft pick in 2008, to a two-year contract.
Lehtera, 26, has yet to play in the NHL. The Finland native spent the past four seasons in Russia’s KHL, including the past three years with Novosibirsk Sibir. He was a teammate and linemate of Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko in 2011-12.
The 6-2, 195-pounder, who shoots left-handed, has been a good scorer in the KHL. He had 44 points (12 goals, 32 assists) in 48 games last season, had 48 points (17 goals, 31 assists) in 52 games in 2012-13 and had 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in 25 games in 2011-12.
The center played for Finland during the 2014 Winter Olympics and helped his side earn the bronze medal with a win over the United States. Lehtera had two assists in the 5-0 win in the bronze medal game.
Lehtera’s deal was reported by FOX Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland to be for $5.5 million over two seasons.
The Finnish center likely takes the spot of unrestricted free agent center Derek Roy, who signed a one-year $4 million deal last offseason but only accounted for 37 points (nine goals, 28 assists) in 75 games with the Blues.