photo courtesy of theahl.com
Weight: 180 lbs.
Birthdate: July 19, 1988
Hometown: Tampere, Finland
Acquired: 4th round (101st overall) of 2006 entry draft
Joonas Lehtivuori is an undersized defenseman known more for his offensive game. his play in his own end and his strength remain weaknesses.
Lehtivuori began his career with Ilves Tampere in Finland. As a 17 year old he was playing at the highest junior level in Finland for Ilves. He showed promise as an offensive defenseman by recording 9 goals and 16 assists in 35 games. At the end of the year, Lehtivuori was ranked 31st amongst European skaters by Central Scouting for the 2006 entry draft. The Flyers made him the 101st selection when they took him in the 4th round of the ’06 draft.
Lehtivuori spent 15 games in Junior A the following season where he finished with 11 points (3G, 8A). As a result of his impessive showing, Ilves called him up to their senior roster where he played the remainder of the season. He did not record any points in 40 games with the senior roster, but he impressed everyone by holding his own on a men’s team as an 18-year-old. He was even invited by to play for Finland at the World Junior Championships this season.
Lehtivuori broke out offensively his second season with Ilves’ senior roster. He ended up finishing second amongst defenseman in scoring as a 19-year-old with 21 points (8G, 13A) in 48 games. His 8 goals lead all defenseman in goal scoring. Just as impressive, he lead the team in plus-minus with a +9 on the year. The playoffs were somewhat less impressive for the young defenseman as he only record a goal and an assist in 9 games.
A third season with Ilves didn’t prove to be be fruitful. He struggled to find the success of his previous season. His point totals were cut nearly in half as he only finished with 12 points in 44 games and fell to 4th amongst Ilves rearguards in scoring. At the end of the season he signed a professional contract with the Philadelphia Flyers so he could continue his development in North America.
Joonas played his first season with the Adirodanck Phantoms of the American Hockey League. It seemed to be a promising rookie season as he showed flashes of offensive potential. He finished with 5 goals and 18 assists in 66 games and lead all Phantoms defenders in points with 23.
The 2010-2011 seemed to be a season of turmoil for Lehtivuori. He began the season with promise, tallying 6 points (2 g, 4 a) in his first 11 games. The wheels seemed to fall of from there. He only managed to notch 3 more points in his next 24 games with the Phantoms. He was also a team worse -24 on the year. In January, the Flyers decided to loan him to KalPa, a Finnish team in the SM-Liiga owned by Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, and former Flyer Sami Kapanen. While in Finland, Lehtivuori expressed his frustration with his lack of playing time and the city of Glen Falls, where the Phantoms are located. His struggles seemed to follow him to Finland as he only recorded 2 assists in 19 games for KalPa.