Flyers center Jori Lehterä was not at practice Wednesday, as news broke that he has been interviewed by police and named as a suspect in a cocaine ring in his native Finland. According to Finnish news service MTV, which first reported the story, Lehterä has denied involvement.
Lehterä is one of 23 suspects in the investigation, according to the report, and some were arrested at Lehterä’s summer home. Police say the investigation concerns two kilograms of cocaine that started being circulated in January, and that roughly three-quarters of a million dollars in jewelry and other valuables have been seized.
There has been no word on Gritty’s involvement.
Lehterä, 30, came to Philadelphia in a 2017 draft-day trade with the Blues that sent Brayden Schenn to St. Louis. The Flyers also received draft picks that would become center Morgan Frost and left winger Joel Farabee. Lehterä had a pretty forgettable first season in Philly, scoring three goals and five assists in 62 games. So he’s probably pretty expendable, if it comes to it: He’s reportedly on the bubble to make the opening night roster out of preseason. Lehterä has a $4.7M cap hit in the final year of his contract, but the Flyers are flush with cap space, so that shouldn’t be much of a consideration.
Flyers GM Ron Hextall and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly each offered terse statements on Lehterä.
“We have spoken with Jori Lehterä and the league office regarding the reports out of Finland,” Hextall said, “and will reserve any further comment on the matter at this time.”
“We will be investigating the situation,” Daly said, “and will have no further comment pending the completion of that process.”