For Jori Lehtera, this is a new beginning.
Coming off a seven-goal, 22-point season with St. Louis, the 29-year-old forward was acquired in the deal that sent Brayden Schenn to the Blues in June. The Flyers received a pair of No. 1 picks in the deal, and Lehtera ($4.7 million cap hit) was considered a salary dump by the Blues.
“Last year was frustrating and I’m really happy to get a fresh start here,” Lehtera said Saturday after the second day of the Flyers camp in Voorhees.”I’m very excited.”
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Lehtera has played primarily at center in his career, but he may have to change positions because the Flyers have lots of depth down the middle.
“That’s fine,” he said. “I’ve played wing before at the World Cup and world championships, so I’m fine with that.”
He said his wife woke him up at 7 a.m. in Finland when she heard he had been traded to the Flyers.
“She said, ‘We’re going to go to Philly.’ I said like, ‘OK.’ And I kept sleeping,” he said. “No, I’m just kidding. I started to Google the place.”
At camp, he has been on a line that includes fellow Finn Val Filppula.
“We’ve been working hard many summers together, skating with each other,” said Lehtera, who may be used as a fourth-line winger and penalty-killer.
In St. Louis, Lehtera spent a lot of time on a line with high-scoring Vladimir Tarasenko. Someone asked Lehtera if anyone on the Flyers had some of Tarasenko’s skills.
“I haven’t seen the guys play that much, so I really don’t know,” he said. “Give me a couple weeks.”
The Flyers will open their exhibition season at 1 p.m. Sunday (WPEN-FM, 97.5) against the Islanders, who are returning to their former home, Nassau Coliseum, where they spent the franchise’s first 43 years.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen so many veterans say they want to play the first preseason game,” forward Cal Clutterbuck told Islanders reporters.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he would reveal his lineup Sunday morning. Teams must play at least eight veterans, with a first-round draft pick from 2017 (Nolan Patrick, for instance) counting toward that group.
“We’ve barely touched on our system, so it’s not going to be about systems,” Hakstol said. “It’ll be more about individuals playing to their strengths.”
“It’ll be good to get the feet going, get the timing going, get the rhythm going,” said center Sean Couturier, who doesn’t know if he’s in the lineup. “You can practice all you want, but it’s never going to be like a game.”
The Flyers would not confirm or deny a report that Dean Lombardi had been hired to help Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, according to Pierre LeBrun. Lombardi, a former Flyers scout, was the Kings general manager when Hextall was an assistant GM there. … Left winger Michael Raffl, fighting for a roster spot, has gained about seven pounds and he looked good in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, tipping in a goal. … Nicolas Aube-Kubel was on the ice after missing the first day of camp with an illness. … Hakstol plans to play his veterans in four or five exhibition games. “We’ll probably be a little younger in these early games,” he said. … Mike Vecchione showcased his speed in Saturday’s scrimmage.