John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports the Sabres shuffled the deck at practice today. Normally not a huge story, but the shuffle is noteworthy as head coach Lindy Ruff moved Ville Leino onto a line with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.
Leino’s been a major disappointment since the Sabres
wildly overspent on signed him to a six-year, $27-million deal. After scoring in the season opener, he’s registered just one point in his last nine games while going minus-5 over that same stretch. Buffalo has tried a myriad of things to get him going — different linemates, even moving him to the wing — but today’s move is the boldest yet: Putting him between red-hot wingers Vanek and Pominville, who have combined for 13 goals and 29 points.
It’s a curious decision to say the least. Rookie C Luke Adam’s had great success (3G-6A-9PTS) centering Vanek and Pominville — the line has been one of the league’s best through 10 games — which harkens back to the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage.
That said, the Sabres’ investment in Leino makes it tough not to pair him with their best players. He’s being paid like a first-line center, so the conventional wisdom says Buffalo should probably put him there.
Fortunately for Leino, he’ll get plenty of practice with his new linemates. The Sabres don’t play again until Wednesday against Philadelphia, which promises to be a special affair — it’ll be the first time Leino faces the Flyers and former linemates Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell, a trio that was unstoppable during Philly’s 2010 Stanley Cup final run.