Buffalo - September 8, 2014 - If all had gone according to plan, Ville Leino would still be a Buffalo Sabre for the next three seasons. Instead, things went horribly, horribly wrong. He recorded 46 points in 137 games, struggling to stay on the ice and being laughably bad when he was, earning the ire of just about everyone who followed the Sabres and many who didn’t.
Mercifully, he was bought out of the final three years of his six-year, $27 million deal this past June, ending as one of the biggest free agent flops in recent memory.
Thanks to the Boston Bruins, his career could be getting back on track. General Manager Peter Chiarelli revealed that the team has invited the 30-year-old Leino to training camp. They seem to be making a habit of extending offers to the apparently washed up folk of the hockey world – they invited Simon Gagne last month. Perhaps they’re really generous (or perhaps they’re hoping they can find secondary scoring on the cheap since they keep handing out huge contracts all willy-nilly).
Speaking of that salary cap situation: Chiarelli stated that he wants to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. The B’s are over the cap at the moment, so someone needs to be moved in order to get under that ceiling before the season begins.
As for Leino, despite all the “ha ha, ho ho” in regards to his on-ice contributions over the last three years, he can still serve a purpose to a team like Boston. He plays a strong possession game and, when not being asked to play a top-six scoring role, can be a solid contributor to the bottom half of the lineup. Not to mention a team like the Bruins would love a cheap veteran right about now to help them out in their cap crunch.
The Sabres, meanwhile, will still have Leino on their payroll through the 2019/20 season.
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