CHICAGO — Jori Lehtera and Brayden Schenn will be facing their former teams Thursday night when the Flyers play the surprising Blues in St. Louis.
A year ago, Lehtera had a frustrating final season with the Blues, so he was happy to be dealt to the Flyers and get what he called a "fresh start."
But the 29-year-old center still has some fond memories of his three seasons in St. Louis, and they will come flooding back when he takes the ice Thursday.
"I'm excited to go there," said Lehtera, a Finland native who was selected by St. Louis in the third round of the 2008 draft. "There's a lot of memories from there — good games, conference finals, a hat trick, playing in my first NHL game. A lot of memories."
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Lehtera spent four seasons in Russia's KHL before breaking in with the Blues and scoring 14 goals in 2014-15. He was a regular with St. Louis for three years, but his production faltered and the Blues wanted to dump his salary — an annual $4.7 million salary-cap hit (fifth-highest on the Flyers) in a contract that expires after the 2018-19 season.
In June, the Flyers acquired two No. 1 draft picks and Lehtera for Schenn, who has three goals, eight assists and a plus-9 rating for a St. Louis team that is 10-2-1 despite a slew of injuries to key players.
"Everything's going good, and when you're winning, everything is a lot better," said Schenn, who played wing and center with the Flyers and has been used exclusively at center with the Blues.
Schenn has been on a high-scoring line with Jaden Schwartz (eight goals, nine assists) and Vlaidimir Tarasenko (six goals, eight assists).
"I'm getting a chance to play with some good players," Schenn said. "I've played with Schwartz in the World Juniors and we've known each other for a long time, both being from Saskatchewan. It's been a lot of fun here so far…. And I'm getting a good opportunity to play in different situations — power play and a little bit of the penalty kill."
Schenn said it will be odd facing the Flyers.
"I spent six years in Philly, and obviously I have a lot of good buddies on that team," he said. "They're going to play hard and so will I, but it's going to be a little weird facing off against buddies. I know quite a few of them are off to good starts and that's good to see as well."
Lehtera, who entered Wednesday's game in Chicago with one assist, no goals and a minus-3 rating in six contests, has replaced the injured Nolan Patrick as the Flyers' third-line center the last four games.