A bomb made quite a splash in Philadelphia on Tuesday as multiple Finnish language reported that Flyers forward Jori Lehtera has been charged for his involvement in a massive cocaine smuggling ring in his native Finland.
Lehtera was arrested this past offseason for allegedly facilitating drug trade back home in Finland. He maintains his innocence and no charges were laid… until now. The charges not only put in doubt his role in the crime, it also puts his future in the NHL in jeopardy and it did not take long for fans and pundits to wonder if the Flyers and new general manager Chuck Fletcher are going to terminate his contract.
While it would be a sensible move from the organization, it would also be the greatest Christmas gift of all for the struggling club still looking for a way back onto the right track to become once again a Cup contender. Joshua Bright provided on Twitter the information every Flyers fan wanted to know when today's breaking news was made: how much could the Flyers get back if they terminate Lehtera's deal.
"Just for fun, Jori Lehtera’s potential contract termination, in addition to the cap increase in 18-19 would cover roughly a 7.7M cap hit."
You can almost see how excited Bright is about the possibility of getting rid of the veteran forward as many fans would love to bemoan Lehtera and his onerous $4.7 million cap hit. The Flyers now have roughly $7 million in salary cap space.
So far this season, Lehtera has tallied just a goal and two assists for three points to go along with his 16 penalty minutes. In his first year in the NHL with the St.Louis Blues, he managed to put up 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points in 75 games. Since that season, his numbers have however been on the decline and with this drug bust getting more and more serious, fans and insiders will wonder if his curricular activities have anything to do with it...
The Flyers haven't won a championship since the Stanley Cups of 1974 and 1975. They have reached the Finals and lost six times over that span. Something needs to be done in Philly and clearly, the Flyers need to take every opportunity to make significant changes. And this Lehtera story is just another way to turn a negative situation into a positive outcome.