Thursday: Lehtera has cleared waivers and was immediately assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Wednesday: The house cleaning continues in Philadelphia, where the Flyers have once again placed a veteran forward on waivers. Today GM Chuck Fletcher announced that Jori Lehtera will be placed on waivers at noon.
It’s been a struggle for Lehtera since joining the Flyers to say the least. The 31-year old forward has recorded just 11 points in 89 games since being part of the package that sent Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues, and never fit into the Philadelphia lineup in any real consistent role. Playing just a handful of minutes whenever he did get into the lineup this season, there was little reason to keep him on the roster other than a hope he would somehow crack open that potential he once showed.
As a 27-year old rookie in 2014-15, Lehtera recorded 44 points and earned himself an expensive contract extension. The decision to hand him a three-year, $14.1MM extension on the first day he was eligible for it almost immediately seemed like a mistake, as Lehtera struggled in his sophomore season and recorded just nine goals for the Blues. Things got even worse the following year when the extension actually kicked in, and he was included as a salary dump in the Schenn trade.
For the Flyers, who already waived and sent Dale Weise away from the team, this was an inevitable next step even as they try to climb back into the playoff race with a late push. Lehtera was by no means part of the plan going forward, and there is little reason to keep him on the roster at this point. Burying him would remove just a prorated $1.025MM off his full season cap hit, but would open up a roster spot for one of the Flyers prospects—though, roster limits will also open up after the trade deadline.
Moving forward, a return to the KHL or his native Finland may be in the cards for Lehtera, who found great success overseas before coming to the NHL in the first place. He certainly won’t be receiving anything near his $5MM salary from an NHL organization next season.