It was almost three years ago the Buffalo Sabres signed Ville Leino to a six-year, $27 million dollar contract. After 137 games, 10 goals, and 46 points today is the first day teams can buy out players and it’s expected Leino will be one of them.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this for the 30-year-old Finnish forward.
He signed his big deal in Buffalo after a career-year with the Philadelphia Flyers. In 81 regular season games he had 19 goals and 53 points.
That big season came on the heels of his 2010 playoffs performance in which he helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final after scoring seven goals with 21 points in 19 games before the Flyers were bounced out of the Final by the Chicago Blackhawks. As Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald recalled, the Sabres were sky-high on Leino after signing him in 2011.
“We felt very strongly about Ville, and we felt it was important to make sure we didn’t allow a quality player to slip by us,” Regier said.
That’s now former Sabres GM Darcy Regier. Former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was similarly eager to get him into action, but it just hasn’t worked.
In three seasons in Buffalo he hasn’t scored as many goals or points as he did in one season in Philly and is now likely about to be sent packing with a $7.3 million farewell check.
It just goes to show you, sometimes answers aren’t always easily found in free agency.