News came down today that Buffalo Sabres winger Thomas Vanek is ready to return. That’s the good news. Ville Leino had taken TV’s spot on the “top” line, playing with center Derek Roy and captain Jason Pominville, and the trio is showing some instant chemistry. Will Sabres coach Lindy Ruff remove Leino from that line, to reinsert Vanek at his “rightful place” as left-wing on the top line?
If he does, it would be a crime. And, for this writer, that would be the bad news.
Leino has been on the line for four games, has one goal, three assists and is a +3. However, the most important thing is that he looks like he is finally, after 50 games, having some fun out there. The smile is back. The “Leino swagger” is back. He is finally doing what he was brought here to do, which is make plays, control the puck along the boards, and give his linemates opportunity to get open.
Why would you mess with that?
Leino is showing that, if you give him ice time, and the opportunity to play with skilled players, as opposed to plumbers, that he will reward the coaching staff and produce. If Ruff gets back behind that bench Friday night, when the Sabres take on the Dallas Stars, and he dumps Leino back onto the 3rd line, he may run the risk of losing this guy altogether. That is not something I would want to risk, 50+ games into Leino’s six-year contract.
Lindy, leave well enough alone. You finally have Leino where you (we) want him. Vanek is the more adaptable player, and he would give the Sabres a nice, even offensively spread-out lineup if he were inserted back in on another line.
Leave Ville where he is.
What do you think?