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NHL Free Agency: Ville Leino Signs With Buffalo Sabres

Ville Leino is now a former Flyer. The 27 year old Finland native signed a 6 year, $27 million deal. The TSN crew met the news with some shock at the size of the deal given what Leino is as a player, but that is the nature of free agency. Teams overpay if they want a guy, that’s nothing new.

Leino was a guy we noted a few days ago probably wouldn’t be as big a loss as people think. In fact, ESPN’s Neil Greenberg had him on his list of the top potential free agent busts.

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. 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.

Still, good for Leino, who has spent a couple years being pretty well underpaid for the value he was providing to the Flyers. So he certainly deserves to be overpaid for a while if anyone does.

If you’re a fantasy hockey player though, it might be wise to sell high on Leino, who will likely see his 19 goals and 34 assists drop in Buffalo.