Jori Lehtera was already facing an uphill battle to make the Flyers’ roster, and today’s reports certainly won’t help his case. According to Finnish news outlets (and relayed by Sam Carchidi of Philly.com), the veteran center is “one of 23 suspects involved in a cocaine ring in Finland.”
Lehtera has denied any involvement, but according to the reports, some of the suspects in the ring were arrested at the player’s summer home. The operation reportedly involved about two kilos of cocaine.
Lehtera was not present at the Flyers’ practice today, and general manager Ron Hextall only issued a brief statement about the allegations:
“We have spoken with Jori Lehtera and the league office regarding the reports out of Finland, and will reserve any further comment on the matter at this time.”
The 30-year-old joined Philly last summer in a deal that sent Brayden Schenn to the Blues. The 2008 third-round pick ultimately appeared in 62 games for the Flyers last season, tallying three goals and five assists. His best season came during his rookie campaign in 2014, when he compiled 14 goals and 30 assists.
Due to his decreased production, Lehtera found himself on the roster bubble heading into the preseason. Despite his $4.7MM cap hit for the following season, there’s a chance that the Flyers could end up sending him to the AHL’s Phantoms. The center’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season.