Bruins invite Ville Leino to training camp

Sept 5, 12:22 PM

The Boston Bruins have invited veteran forward Ville Leino to training camp, general manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Friday

One of the most disappointing free-agent acquisitions in recent memory, Leino's contract was the target of a compliance buyout by the Buffalo Sabres in June.

The 30-year-old Finnish winger managed zero goals and just 15 assists in 50 games with the moribund Sabres in 2013-14. In total, he managed just 10 goals during his three-year Sabres tenure, while taking home over $23 million in actual salary (including the cost of his buyout).

A playmaking winger who almost never shoots the puck, it's tough to see where Leino might slot in with the Bruins. Perhaps he's insurance to cover the club in the off chance that they can't figure out how to get unsigned RFA Reilly Smith under contract before the season starts. 

Even then, it's pretty clear that younger players like Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, and Alexander Khokhlachev are better bets to be useful in a top-nine role. 

Feature photo courtesy of US PRESSWIRE/Marc DesRosiers

July 7, 4:43 PM

Ville Leino's agent having 'good talks' with multiple teams

July 7, 4:43 PM

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Unrestricted free agent forward Ville Leino appears on track to sign a new deal at some point this summer, after his contract was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres back in June.

The 30-year-old signed a six-year, $27-million deal with the Sabres in 2011, but scored only 10 goals in three seasons in Buffalo. He appeared in only 58 games in 2013-14, recording 15 assists and 38 shots on goal.

June 18, 1:19 PM

Leino clears buyout waivers; agent says 'first priority is to play in the NHL'

June 18, 1:19 PM

Ville Leino cleared waivers Wednesday and his contract will be bought out by the Buffalo Sabres. According to his agent, Markus Lehto, the 30-year-old has every intention of signing with another NHL team on July 1.

"His first priority is to play in the NHL," Leino's agent told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. "He knows he's an NHLer. He knows the numbers haven't really been there for the past year. But he had had some health issues, he's totally healthy now. We'll see what happens, it's going to be interesting." 

As per the stipulations of the buyout, Leino will earn $1.22 million in each of the next six seasons.

June 17, 12:20 PM

Report: Sabres place Ville Leino on waivers, compliance buyout looms

June 17, 12:20 PM

The Buffalo Sabres have put the buyout of Ville Leino into motion as the much-maligned forward has reportedly been waived, per John Vogl of The Buffalo News.

The Sabres' decision to use their compliance buyout wasn't made immediately, but it's probably the most just. Since signing a six-year, $27-million deal with the organization in 2011, Leino has totalled 10 goals in three seasons as a Sabre. 

Related: 3 things you need to know about the NHL compliance buyout period

Leino has 24 hours to clear waivers before the Sabres can bid farewell once and for all. 

They will, however, still owe him $7.33 million over the next six seasons (per gapgeek), pillaging the Sabres for over $22 million, per Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

Related: 5 fringe compliance buyout targets

Apr 15, 3:27 PM

Sabres GM Murray: 'Very good possibility' that Ville Leino's contract will be bought out

Apr 15, 3:27 PM

Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray has started writing up an offseason to-do list, and it appears as though contract removal may be high up on the page.

As per Pro Hockey Talk, the Sabres have yet to use one of their two compliance buyouts, whereby "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."

If they choose this route, the Sabres would free themselves of a $4.5 million cap hit over the next three seasons, but would be paying Leino $1.22 million per season until 2020.

Apr 14, 10:27 AM

The Sabres paid Ville Leino $4M to assist on 15 goals

Apr 14, 10:27 AM

The Buffalo Sabres had a terrible season finishing 21-51-10 and bringing up the rear in league standings with 52 points. While the Sabres had the worst NHL season as a whole, forward Ville Leino takes the cake for a personal worst.

Through 58 games played, Leino scored a total of zero goals and 15 assists while making $4 million. He has three years left on his contract with an average cap hit of $4.5 million.

Leino has never gone scoreless in an entire year through six NHL seasons.

2008-09Detroit Red Wings1359
2009-10Detroit Red Wings4247
2009-10Philadelphia Flyers1324
2010-11Philadelphia Flyers811953
2011-12Buffalo Sabres71825
2012-13Buffalo Sabres826
2013-14Buffalo Sabres58015

Leino didn't have many excuses either as he played on the top line with the Sabres for two games. One would think something had to give - a lucky break? Not for Leino.

To put his numbers in perspective, tough guy John Scott has scored a goal this season. It was his first goal since 2009-10, and his sixth point through his entire seven-year NHL career.

Mar 25, 3:43 PM

Scoreless Sabres F Leino thinks there's lots of other players who haven't helped the team

Mar 25, 3:43 PM

Since signing a whopping six-year, $27 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres in the summer of 2011, struggling forward Ville Leino has managed just 10 goals and 33 assists in 129 games with the club. This season he's been a regular healthy scratch, hasn't scored a goal in 50 games, and is dead last among regular NHL forwards in even-strength shot rate.

Despite his appreciable struggles, Leino doesn't seem to think that he's deserved to spend so many games sitting in the press box. 

"There’s a lot of other guys on the team, too, that hasn’t been able to really help that much either," Leino told Buffalo News reporter Jon Vogl on Tuesday

"There’s so much going on in here in the organization with how this team’s been lately," continued the expensive, under-performing Finnish forward. "I’m just trying to stay focused and not think about it too much. When you go in, do your best."

Leino's most recent benching resulted from a bad giveaway against the Calgary Flames during the Sabres' recent swing through western Canada. Even on that sequence, which Leino admitted wasn't "a good play", the struggling forward suggested that there was a lot of blame to go around:

You don’t want to do that play, but saying that we’re not able to bail ourselves out of those situations. Nobody’s bailing you out. It’s three-on-three. It turns the other way, then we lose guys and lose battles and don’t box out. It always happens when you try to do that. When you’re not playing good, those things end up going in.

Leino is likely to get back into the Sabres lineup on Tuesday, as grinder Zenon Konopka strained his back during the flight from Vancouver to Montreal on Monday night. 

"I’ll just try to make plays, work hard and try to create some offense, create some chances," Leino said. "That’s my game. I can’t be anyone else."

Really though if Leino is "making plays" and "creating some offense" on Tuesday, then he'll be playing exactly like somebody else.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Timothy T. Ludwig