Without saying as much in the end of the season press conference, Tim Murray and Ted Nolan are fully prepared to buyout the remaining balance of Ville Leino‘s contract as soon as legally possible. Ville Leino has been a blight on the Buffalo Sabres roster and one of the few remaining black eyes in the organization left by former General Manager Darcy Regier.
While the buyout seems iminent, the Buffalo Sabres have to be cautious of the salary cap floor. While fans want the team to be better next year, don’t expect the team to make a huge splash in free agency this year – possibly leaning only towards role and depth players as they try to shape their top players through the draft.
Why Ville Leino isn’t gone already
Most fans would have hoped they were rid of Ville Leino by this point, but teams cannot buy players out until 48 hours after the Stanley Cup has been awarded. The buyout period then goes through to the opening of free agency. Teams cannot buyout an injured player.
two four options for the contract of Ville Leino.
The Buffalo Sabres could retain his contract, and make sure they have a veteran forward coming into camp with playoff experience. Maybe a full year under a regular head coach and an injury free season would help spur the forward into regaining some of his scoring touch. With his numerous benchings and run ins with head coach Ted Nolan this is the less likely option to happen as the relationship between player and coach is obviously strained, and the organization seems ready to wash their hands of the enigmatic forward.
The Buffalo Sabres could keep Ville Leino, but bury his contract by allowing him to return to Europe and play. With a contract limit and plenty of prospects on the radar that will most likely come under contract soon, this is even less likely than the Sabres returnig him to the lineup next year, but is an option to keep a player on the books. Leino excelled in the playoffs, so they could give him two years back in Europe on a sabbatical of sorts to get his mind right. You could then bring him back for the final year of his contract to let him play his way back into the NHL in 2016-2017.
If the Buffalo Sabres are worried about the salary cap floor but don’t want Ville Leino associated with the organization in anyway, regular buyout is option number three. If they don’t want to overpay players in this years free agency pool, they can skip the compliance buyout option and go the same path they went with Nathan Gerbe. Give Ville Leino a regular buyout, which still pits his salary against their cap numbers. This allows Leino to get to free agency this year, but the Buffalo Sabres retain his contract hit, getting them to the cap floor easier.
Compliance buyout Ville Leino and let him hit free agency, with no ties left to the Buffalo area other than the fact that he will always be an alumni of this team based on the three seasons that he played here wearing a blue and gold sweater.