Yet on July 1, Ville Leino isn't a Flyer. He's with the Buffalo Sabres, for the next six years, for $27 million of owner Terry Pegula's dollars.
What happened with the Flyers? Sarah Baicker of CSN Philly explained the stalemate earlier on Friday:
After multiple meetings between the Flyers and Ville Leino's agent Bill Zito failed to result in a deal, the Flyers' winger hit the open market Friday, when NHL free agency kicked off at noon.
The Flyers appear unwilling to pay Leino more than about $3.5 million a year, but the 27-year-old believes he's capable of bringing in more. Considering the Florida Panthers just signed Tomas Kopecky (a similar player, two years Leino's senior, who had poorer stats) to a four-year, $12-million deal, Leino is probably right.
After the Flyers signed Jaromir Jagr for $3.3 million, that spelled the end for Leino.
It's a $4.5 million cap hit, which is a ludicrously high number for Leino … unless, of course, Leino is entering his prime and can blend with a Derek Roy (or, potentially, a Brad Richards) and starts posting 65-70-point seasons. He also has 26 points in his last 30 playoff games, which can't be underestimated.
If he's still a 0.65 points-per-game player in Buffalo … well, they've just made him the third-highest paid forward on the team, so it better damn well be higher than that.
On paper, it's overpayment. Like Christian Ehrhoff was overpayment at 10 years and $40 million. But for a team that's seen talent leave for the dollars instead of using the same bait to attract talent for decades, why not let the Buffalo Sabres have their shopping spree, right?
(Please note this is the sort of thing one writes before seeing Leino flop in Buffalo, thus becoming a symbol of a novice billionaire hockey owner spending money haphazardly in his first summer.)
- Ville Leino
- Buffalo Sabres