30-Year-Old Center – Free Agent
Ville Leino Contract Information:
Became an unrestricted free agent in July 2014.
Leino was placed on unconditional waivers by the Sabres on Tuesday for the purpose of a buyout, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports.
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Ville Leino: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Leino's first season in Buffalo was a massive disappointment after signing a six-year, $27 million deal as a free-agent in 2011. He struggled to just 25 points in 71 games after posting 53 points for the Flyers in '10-11. Leino has fallen way down the depth chart and may only get a chance to redeem himself if injuries hit the Sabres again in '12-13 considering how many skilled forwards Buffalo has. Despite what looks like a poor fit in Buffalo, he's too talented to not have a slight rebound and post 35-40 points in '12-13.
Leino broke the hearts of Sabres fans with an overtime winner in Game 6 of the Flyers' eventual series win over Buffalo in the 2011 playoffs. He was dynamic in the series, and the Sabres saw enough to make him their number one forward target when free agency began. Leino, who had 19 goals and 34 assists last year for Philly, is expected to, at the very least, match that output but forwards in their first year under Lindy Ruff have tended to struggle getting acclimated to his system, so his presence as a top-six forward comes with that caveat.
Leino certainly didn't impress in Detroit before coming over to Philadelphia in a midseason trade and wasn't anything special as the Flyers wound down the regular season. And then the playoffs started, and he erupted to the tune of 21 points as the Flyers marched all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Leino, who turns 27 in October, had eight multi-point games in the postseason after managing just 11 points in 55 games. Whether the explosion was a matter or circumstance or the light going on for the Scandinavian remains to be seen, but his pedigree suggests that he just might be the real deal.
The latest in what has become a long line of successful scouting efforts in Scandinavia, Leino spent most of his first season in North America with Grand Rapids (AHL), where he tallied 46 points in 57 games (and 13 points in 10 postseason contests) for the Griffins around limited duty with Detroit. Following the departure of Hossa, Hudler and Samuelsson, the 25-year-old Leino was inked to a two-year deal during the summer, with the promise from head coach Mike Babcock that he won't be going to back to Grand Rapids. As a result, Leino will be among the cast expected to replace the lost production, while his offensive talent and improving footwork could land him on one of the Wings' top two lines if he has a strong camp.