Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray all but rubber-stamped the inevitable on Tuesday, saying the compliance buyout of beleaguered forward Ville Leino was a “very good possibility.”
Leino, 30, just wrapped the third of a six-year, $27 million deal that’s widely regarded as one of the NHL’s most onerous contracts. Signed largely after shooting to prominence during 2010 postseason with the Flyers — when he found magic on a line with Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere, scoring 21 points in 19 games — Leino has been a colossal disappointment in Buffalo, scoring just 46 points in 137 games while missing 75 to a variety of injuries, healthy scratches and a suspension.
This year, Leino gained infamy by failing to score a single goal in 58 games, and only put 38 shots on goal.
Buffalo has yet to use either of its compliance buyouts — where the salary-cap charge is completely wiped clean, but the team must pay two-thirds of the remaining contract across twice the remaining term of the deal — opting to use a regular buyout, not a compliance, on Nathan Gerbe this past summer.
Should the Sabres buy out Leino, they’d be relieved of his $4.5 million cap hit over the next three seasons, but would be paying Leino $1.22 million per season until 2020.
This year’s compliance buyout window begins 48 hours after the conclusion of the ’14 Stanley Cup Finals.