The Ville Leino Buyout Option

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres still have two compliance buyout options to use this upcoming off season.  The compliance buyouts were put into place to help buffer the blow for teams that struggled to get under the new “reduced” salary cap that the lockout produced.

The Buffalo Sabres may never use their compliance buyouts, and here is why.  With reports that the salary cap could jump upwards of 70 Million dollars by next season – the Sabres may be in need of a couple of inflated contracts to keep themselves at the floor while they continue to rebuild the organization post Darcy Regier.

Ville Leino is subject to much of the compliance buyout talks, as he was signed to a six year, 27 million dollar contract by the Buffalo Sabres prior to the 2011-2012 season.  His deal actually gets cheaper as time wears on.  This year he is on the payroll for 4 million, with next year still at 4, and the two remaining years at 3.5million dollars.

Despite handing him an average salary of 4.5 million dollars a year, the Buffalo Sabres have seen no return on their investment – and he has long since drawn the ire of fans in the 716 and beyond who are tired of paying for mediocrity.

Since taking the franchise out of the hands of Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston – a change has been seen in many players, including Leino.  The fight has returned, emotion and energy are now things common when watching the Sabres take on opponents.

Sure, they are still losing, but changing the general manager and head coach doesn’t change the fact that the Buffalo Sabres are still a bad hockey team, a product of a general manager unable to put the right pieces together.  It is going to take more time than 11 games to turn things around for this organization.

Unfortunately the Buffalo Sabres are between a rock and a hard place with an impending inflation of the salary cap.  To remain at the floor, they either have to resign Ryan Miller to a new contract with a  decent raise, as well as add pieces that are costly enough to keep them at the salary floor.

The contracts of Ville Leino and Drew Stafford may be important in that piece.

The best option for the Buffalo Sabres is to figure out what magic happened inside Ville Leino’s head the year he scored 53 points for the Philadelphia Flyers.  Was that a one and done magical year for the forward – or is he capable of playing that way again?

A simple google search using “Ville Leino benching” turns up several interesting articles, and I am not just talking about headlines from his most recent trip to the press box at the First Niagara Center.

Why I’m Fine With the Ville Leino’s Benching  (BroadStreetHockey 2011)

Its Time For Detroit Red Wings To Pull The Cord On Ville Leino (Bleacher Rport 2009)

He has been benched a couple of times in Buffalo.

The fact of the matter is, the Buffalo Sabres bought out Nathan Gerbe, a fan favorite player who found the back of the net more often than Leino and was a very feisty player, and didn’t count it as a compliance buyout.  The Buffalo Sabres have no problem under current owner Terry Pegula of spending up to the salary cap.

The Buffalo Sabres are no longer in a position to use the compliance buyouts, and if the rebuild goes according to plan, Ville Leino could be a piece of the future, an overpaid piece, but a piece none the less.  The Buffalo Sabres want to be the team free agents come to, and they also want to be in the play on July 1 – when everyone overpays for free agents.

Hell, maybe they need to keep Ville Leino on the payroll just to remind them of why the Buffalo Sabres are always looking for, well, Better Days.

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Compliance Buyout, Ville Leino

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  • jimbobv2

    I can’t wait for Leino to be gone.

    I hated the signing the day it happened and I still hate it.

    Whether they retain a portion of his salary and trade him or CBO him this summer, doesn’t matter to me.

    I just want him off the roster by the time training camp opens next fall.

  • Pingback: The Official Ville Leino Support Thread: Day One

  • Jes

    Get him out of here. It’s all well and good being on the Leino support bandwagon like Rich but in all honesty we’ve been keeping faith and supporting him for awhile now and he has shown us absolutely nothing in return. No more time to support him, he’s been given ample time and good line mates to work with to produce and he has done exactly nodda.

  • Dano

    Good article Tim. I do have some disagreements from what was stated though.

    “The best option for the Buffalo Sabres is to figure out what magic happened inside Ville Leino’s head the year he scored 53 points for the Philadelphia Flyers. ”

    So.. we have to ‘ magically ‘ acquire Giroux? Thats where Leinos tallies came from. I dont think Philly is willing to part with him. *I* wouldnt complain if they found a way to snag him ( Giroux ) from the flyers.

    Im going to show my hebrew side here and say buy out Leino. Theres RFA’s and UFA’s coming up that we could EASILY hit the cap floor with. ( Pirri ) from Chicago, Eakin from Dallas, VrBata from Pheonix, Steen from St. Louis.. Theres so many players we could throw an offer sheet at ( considering what we presently have ).

    2-3 years down the road though, Buffalo might want to sign some of the people they drafted.. would be nice to have some cap space then and not pay Leino.

    • Chris D.

      Having money doest guarantee any of those UFA’s/RFA’s will sign here and Leino is a UFA in 16-17, which is 3 seasons from now, opening up the books for the draft picks you mentioned to get signed.. I would suggest we waive him and pay him to play in Rochester. I believe we have a veteran spot or 2 left, as NHL rules state that you’re only able to stash so many NHL veterans in your minor league club at any given time. That way, we would still be taking a cap hit on him to stay above the cap floor and he can suck eggs in the minors, which is what he deserves. The real shame here is that we signed him for so long in the first place, based on one good season he had in Philly with a guy that he wasn’t going to play with here.

      • JHizzle75

        I watch every game I can, and still my only problem with Leino is his preference to pass instead of shoot .
        I really don’t understand all the hatred towards Leino. Had a great playoff run, signed a big contract, and has had bad luck wi
        th injuries ever since. Now he’s healthy and playing his ass off, just not getting points. Seems to me the entire team isn’t getting points, but I guess it’s Leino’s fault because someone offered him s shitload of money and he said “yes”!!!!
        He simply needs to shoot more and this problem will solve itself.

  • davidmuscalo

    If I were LaFontaine or the next GM, I’d waive Leino and, when he cleared waivers, send him down to Rochester until he proves he wants to play in the NHL and not just collect a large paycheck. Blue sky, of course, would be for him not to clear waivers and get pick up by another NHL team. Either way, it’s a win-win for us fans.