Scouts needed just one look at the 6'4 winger moving swiftly around the ice while performing difficult tricks with the puck to draw several circles around Lehtonen's name in their notebooks. He has displayed his talent in many international tournament in the years before his draft. The results have been varying all the way down to benchings, but he delivered at the first milestone in the U18 World Championships. In the meantime with his club team Espoo Blues, stardom is still ahead for Lehtonen in Jr A, although he did get his pro debut out of the way before the draft.
2005-06: Lehtonen split the season between the Finland Junior-A level and the elite league for the Espoo Blues. He put up respectable numbers at the junior level, collecting a total of seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 15 games, but he failed to make a significant impact at the elite level. In 25 games with the SM-Liga, Lehtonen scored four goals and had no assists. Lehtonen also represented Finland in the WJC, finishing with an assist and two penalty minutes in seven games.
2006-07: Lehtonen played steady hockey most of the season. His season was interrupted by the WJC and later by a shoulder injury. He tallied most of his goals on the power play, as his even-strength ice time fluctuated a lot. As the lines were shuffled, Lehtonen at times found himself on the fourth line even though he was consistently worthy of a spot on a scoring line. Nonetheless, Lehtonen developed greatly from the previous season and is now ready for AHL hockey.
Lehtonen was signed to an entry level contract in May of 2007
2007-08: While fulfilling a military obligation that kept him in Finland for another season, Lehtonen had a slight increase in production for the Blues.
2008-09: Lehtonen’s first season in North America was one of the best of his career. In 72 games with Providence (AHL) he netted a career-high 28 goals and 53 points. His 39 PIM was another career for the winger from Finland. He also appeared in his first NHL game, but failed to register any points in his one game call up to Boston. He’ll start the season with Boston in 2009-10.
2009-10: In his second AHL season, Lehtonen appeared in 78 games for the Providence Bruins. Lehtonen scored 23 goals and chipped in 27 assists for 50 points. He also appeared in 1 NHL game for the Boston Bruins, going scoreless in that game.
2010-11: Lehtonen was the second-leading scorer for Skelleftea in Sweden's Elitserien after signing a contract with the club in August 2010. In 55 games he had 30 goals with 28 assists and was +1 with 34 PMs. Skelleftea reached the finals of the Elitserien playoffs, falling to Farjestad, and in 18 playoff games Lehtonen scored 3 goals with 5 assists and was an even plus/minus. The Wild obtained the NHL rights to Lehtonen from Boston in a February 2011 trade. In May 2011 he signed a contract to play for Severstal Cherepovets in Russia's KHL in 2011-12.
2011-12: Lehtonen went from Sweden to Russia – skating for Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL. He scored 11 goals with 10 assists and was minus-six with 24 penalty minutes in 48 games. Severstal finished third in the Tarasov Division and lost in the playoff quarterfinals. Lehtonen was minus-one with no points nor penalty minutes in six playoff games.
Lehtonen is big, fast and skilled. Unfortunately he is mostly just that. He has been spotted on ice as a dangerous sniper, brilliant passer and a disciplined checker. Based on a sample of games, one would say that he is far less perfect than that. Lehtonen is still trying to put it all together, neither quite conforming to offensive tactics nor playing two-way hockey more than one way at a time. He is making steady progress, though - and he should, as he is known to work hard in practice. Following Lehtonen's development to his final form will be intriguing to say the least.
Lanky by nature, Lehtonen still looks a lot like a junior player. He has made steady progress and his stock appears to be on the rise.