With the 2017 draft come and gone, and potentially the next franchise star in place, the Flyers look towards training camp. This training camp will be different from many others. This will be the first Flyers training camp that doesn’t consist of at least one of the Schenn brothers. Luke was part of the deal that sent Lecavalier to Los Angeles in exchange for Jordan Weal last January and Brayden was just exchanged for a late first round pick, which turned into Morgan Frost, and Jori Lehtera with the St. Louis Blues.
Every Flyers fan knows exactly what the team gave up when they dealt Schenn. He was absolutely cerebral on the power play this past year, netting 17 goals on the man advantage. Lehtera, on the other hand, had three. Oh, I mean that he has three power play goals in three years with the St. Louis Blues. To be fair Lehtera hasn’t been given the chances that Schenn has, because look at who the Blues had to put on their power play lines with guys like Stastny, Tarasenko, Steen, even Backes for two of those years. The chances for Lehtera just weren’t there. When you have a solid top 6 that is damn near impossible to crack, it’s tough to get any kind of special teams play.
The Flyers will no doubt miss the production that Brayden Schenn contributed to the team. However, this deal goes to show just how dedicated Hextall is to the future. With this deal, he locked up Morgan Frost, who entered the 2017 NHL draft with mixed reviews. According to Bill Meltzer with NHL.com, a former Montreal Canadien scout that now works for a publication had him ranked 21st overall as a sleeper. Someone else had him as the second fastest skater in the draft, along with the 41st overall prospect. Bob Mckenzie of TSN even had him ranked 31st amongst all North American skaters. Finally, a scouting service had him ranked 71st out of all the prospects in the NHL draft this past year. Obviously Hextall is no dummy. Hell, the guy got a third round pick for Zac Rinaldo. ZAC RINALDO FOLKS! Hexy knows what he is doing. He understands that it may take a year or two to get back to the top part of a very competitive Metropolitan division.
With that being said, he won’t get to the top of the division without making a few sacrifices along the way. Brayden Schenn just happened to be the lamb this time around. Then in comes Jori Lehtera, a player that was destined for greatness in St. Louis, but ended up becoming someone that fans despised. St. Louis brought him in from the KHL after bringing in his former linemate, Vlad Tarasenko. After seeing the success Tarasenko had in his first year in the NHL, Blues’ brass thought it wise to bring in his old linemate from over in Russia. Lehtera comes in with all sorts of hype surrounding him, even going as far as people saying that he could be the center of the future for the Blues. After a somewhat underwhelming first year and 44 points to his name, fans thought, “Maybe he is just adjusting to the size and speed of the game in North America.” Wrong. His second year he amassed only 34 points. Even worse, a year later, he put up a measly 22 points.
So the Flyers give up a young, talented center for a first round pick, conditional first rounder next year, and Jori Lehtera. No doubt Schenn will be missed, but let’s think about this. This year’s draft, Hextall took players with a lot of size. Even their first round selection, Nolan Patrick, is six foot two at 199 pounds. Isaac Ratcliffe towers at six foot six and two hundred pounds, while even Matthew Strome is six foot three and weighing in at two hundred and seven pounds. Ron Hextall has made it abundantly clear that in the future, the Flyers are going to be big. Jori Lehtera fits that mold very well. Standing at six feet two inches and weighing in at two hundred and ten pounds, Lehtera is a physical forward. He will battle along the boards, he’ll get to those dirty areas and dig away at the loose pucks. He’s the kind of guy that Philadelphia is known for. He’s a grinder.
It seems all too much lately that the Flyers have strayed away from the bully mentality that basically established this franchise. With this trade and the players drafted over the past few years, it seems like Ron Hextall is bullying his way back to the glory days with big, strong, physical forwards who can score. Philadelphia won’t exactly embody that type of play right away, but with the infusion of youth into the team in the coming years, the Flyers are bound to regain their nickname, the “Broad Street Bullies.”
Jori Lehtera is walking into the ideal situation right now. The Flyers are trending towards wanting players like Jori Lehtera. He is in a position where he can relive his success that he attained while still playing over in Russia in the KHL. This is his platform to prove that he belongs in the NHL, and that he can compete with the top competition in the world. Reclamation projects aren’t exactly a strong suit for the Flyers, but a change of scenery is sometimes necessary if a player wants to succeed and contribute at a decent rate in the league.
So here, this is Jori’s chance to prove that he belongs here. Not only that, but to prove his critics wrong. There are many, especially the ones he left in his wake on his way out of St. Louis. People including this man, known as “Torque Penderloin” who apparently doesn’t think too highly of Lehtera.
How does no one but us realize that Jori Lehtera is horrible
— horse massacre (@torqpenderloin) July 19, 2017
Or, people like Justin Dubya here, who finds his crack on Jori Lehtera FOUR laughin faces worth of funny.
Just wait till Jori Lehtera shows up. 😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/2urv8eiDUp
— 🤘🏻Justin Dubya🤘🏻 (@justin03) June 28, 2017
Finally, we have Julius Swerving, who gives us his take on how to make a bad team.
All in all, this will be a prove it year for Lehtera. His first year will be full of ups and downs. Hakstol will healthy scratch him at some point. Death, taxes, healthy scratches are the three things certain in the life of a Philadelphia Flyer. Lehtera will get demoted to the fourth line, and honestly, he might stay there. However, don’t consider it a demotion if his style of play fits the bill of a fourth line guy. He isn’t meant to be a stud top six forward. He won’t be a 70, 60, or even 50 point guy. Yes, he will contribute, but in smaller ways. Point being, don’t load all these unrealistic expectations on Lehtera’s shoulders when he is destined to be a 3rd or 4th line guy. He will play his part. If he doesn’t he won’t be a Flyer for long, it’s as simple as that.
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports