When the Flyers acquired Jori Lehtera in the Brayden Schenn deal back in June, some of the pundits who cover the team weren’t thrilled. I even read he was overpaid and not that good. I suspect that “hot take” will change. This version of the talented Finn is trimmer and faster. He loved practice today.
“It was so much fun. I haven’t had that much fun for a long time,” Lehtera admitted. “I changed my workout schedule with what I’ve done before. I’m trying to make myself more explosive, faster, that kind of stuff. The young guys coming in the league are super-fast, so now I have to change my own style.”
At 29, Ron Hextall acquired a player whose cap hit is manageable at $4.7 million for the next two years. Whether he plays center or wing, and so far, it seems like wing is the way he gets the most playing time, he is excited to start a new chapter in his life. He was looking forward to camp.
“Oh, my god yes. I left and we had a hard couple of weeks. We had a baby and moving in here. A lot of stuff. Training camp feels like a vacation to me,” he chuckled. “Everything is a fresh table.”
Today he was the left winger on a line with Val Filppula. They had instant chemistry.
“We have played a few games together on the national team,” he said. “It’s been a while but we’ve worked out together in the summers for many years.”
Last year Filppula had five goals and eight points in 20 games for the Flyers. He was 52.9% on draws and Lehtera could increase his production if they were to play together this season.
Lehtera’s point production has dipped in each of the last three seasons in St. Louis. I think his clash with Ken Hitchcock affected his offense drastically last season. Having only 22 points was a career low. Coincidentally his 15:11 ATOI was a career low as well.
Speed is the name of the game these days. Lehtera doesn’t look at the young players to see how he stacks up in the quickness department. Instead he thinks a lot of it is mental.
“It’s just a feeling on the ice. If you think you’re fast, that’s enough.”
What a difference a year makes. Lehtera has a great attitude once based on a clean slate and not looking back. He loves the city and he had a ton of energy after a very demanding practice. I expect him to have a bounce back year.
Read my early thoughts on the morning session here: