As the 2009-10 season progressed, it because more and more apparent that the Philadelphia Flyers needed more (cheap) skill in their top-6 forward ranks.
And that’s exactly what they received on Saturday, as Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren sent physical depth defenseman Ole-Kristien Tollefsen and a 2011 fifth round pick to Detroit for Finnish rookie forward Ville Leino.
Leino, 26, comes with a cap hit of $800,000, and is armed with good play making ability and solid scoring attributes on the wing. Not very swift or physical, Leino, at 6’0, 190 lbs., was expected to contend for the Calder Trophy (League’s best rookie) this season, but has been a disappointment, earning himself a healthy scratch for Detroit’s last six games.
“I consider myself a skilled player,” Leino told Kurz. “My talent is more on the offensive side of the rink, but I would like to consider myself as a contributor in the defensive zone, too. I am hoping to produce some offense and help the team get some points and win games.”
Despite receiving a decent-sized role in the Red Wings’ offense, Leino only put up four goals and three assists in 42 games. In 2008-09, the undrafted Savonlinna, Finland native was much better in limited time, scoring five goals and four assists in only 13 games.
“Sometimes things don’t go as you plan it with your team,” Leino said. “The trade happened, and I am happy to be going to a good team like Philadelphia. I have heard a lot of good things about Philly and I am looking forward to playing and proving myself to Philadelphia. I am pretty happy about this trade.”
Leino has one year left on his contract, which will make him an unrestricted free agent in 2011-12. He will wear number 22.
Where does Leino fit?
It is unknown who on the Flyers’ roster will be knocked out of the lineup for Leino, since on many nights the team’s best players have been the third and fourth line grinders, particularly Darroll Powe, Arron Asham, Ian Laperriere and Dan Carcillo. But with underachieving Simon Gagne and Scott Hartnell unable to be scratched due to the high cap hit, it is likely that Leino may sit and wait for injury or one of said grinders will be plucked.
What was Detroit thinking?
If you were asking yourself why Detroit GM Ken Holland would make such a deal? Here is your answer — cap space. With Johan Franzen returning to the Red Wings’ lineup shortly from injury, Holland needed to open up close to $600,000 in space. The Red Wings received Tollefsen and immediately placed him on waivers, keeping the space open for Franzen. However, it is not ruled out that Tollefsen, a UFA in the offseason, could be resigned by Detroit. Leino was simply a cap casualty for the struggling Wings.