Blues forward Jori Lehtera appears to be on schedule in his return from an ankle injury sustained at the end of last season.
Lehtera, who has not been on the ice with his Blues teammates for the first two days of training camp, has begun skating on his own and is progressing from the injury. According to head coach Ken Hitchcock, Lehtera has had several on-ice sessions as of Saturday.
“He’s skating,” Hitchcock said. “This is day two or three that he has skated. He did real well. We will just see day-to-day moving forward here.”
The 27-year-old center injured his ankle during the final week of last year’s regular season while blocking a shot. Lehtera played through the injury, playing in five of the Blues’ six postseason games and posting two points. But the team realized this offseason that the ailment wasn’t going away.
Lehtera underwent a successful surgical procedure on his right ankle on Aug. 4. The original timetable for his return to the ice was 6-8 weeks. Lehtera appears to be on pace to match the shorter end of that timetable.
It’s unlikely that the center will be available for the Blues’ first preseason games next Tuesday, but the expectation is that Lehtera is on track to return before the regular season begins on Oct. 8.
After a stellar first NHL season in which he posted 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists) in 75 games, Lehtera signed a three-year, $14.1 million contract this summer which will keep the forward a Blue through the 2018-19 season.
Last year, Lehtera spent most of his time on the ice with Vladimir Tarasenko. There might be a different role reserved for the center this year, but until he begins skating with the team, it is to be determined.