With the Flyers' newfound cap space in the wake of the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades, many have speculated that they may now be able to afford to keep winger Ville Leino. He scored 19 goals last year and was one of the heroes of the Flyers 2010 Stanley Cup Finals run. He is expected to get a nice raise as a free agent this year, but would it be wise for the Flyers to give him that raise?â†µ
ESPN's Neil Greenberg isn't so sure. He lists Leino as one of his NHL free agents due for a regression this year.â†µ
Leino was the beneficiary of the hockey trifecta -- puck luck, good linemates and very soft minutes. His shooting percentage of 16.2 percent was good for fourth among forwards playing at least 40 games last season. Fifty-eight goals were scored by his most frequent linemates, Daniel Briere and Scotty Hartnell, and he saw almost two-thirds of his starts occur in the offensive zone against the weakest competition that opposing teams put on the ice.â†µ
General managers will recall Leino's impressive 2010 postseason in which Philadelphia advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, but without teammates such as Carter and Richards to handle the tough minutes, it's likely his production level drops to single-digit goals.â†µ
Among the other players in this free agent class he expects to return less value than they're being paid for... Ilya Bryzgalov.