Jori Lehtera (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues have locked up center Jori Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko's linemate, to a three-year extension that starts next year.
Not every KHL import works out – see Cervenka, Roman – but Jori Lehtera was a resounding success in his first season with the St. Louis Blues. He was a third-round pick with the team in 2008 and toiled in Europe for several seasons, primarily in the KHL, before joining the Blues for 2014-15.
Lehtera, a 27-year-old Finn, clicked immediately on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, a dynamic young trio that arguably usurped the Alexander Steen/David Backes/T.J. Oshie unit for de facto No. 1 status.
With Backes and Oshie rumored to be available via trade, Lehtera, Tarasenko and Schwartz are even more important. Tarasenko, a restricted free agent, remains GM Doug Armstrong's top priority. Schwartz is an RFA next summer. Lehtera had a year left on his deal, so his new three-year, $14.1-million pact doesn't start until 2016-17.