Leino Stone Unturned

You say goodbye, and I say hello.

It seems the Sabres are parting ways with center Tim Connolly, and saying “Hello, hello!” to his replacement, Ville Leino. (Sorry, the Beatles annoy me too. But TC annoyed us, so it seemed appropriate.)

Timmeh, thank you for your efforts. You fought through a lot of injuries in this town. Good luck to you.

Meanwhile, the Sabres also seemed to have passed on the perhaps mega-overpriced Brad Richards. That is probably a good business decision, considering the fact he is 31, coming off a concussion, and could undermine the Sabres ability to re-sign Myers and Ennis next year.

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Photoshop this image into a blue and gold uniform, and add flames to the beard, and tell me you ain't excited.

Leino’s dry stats:

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LW? WTF? (Click for larger image.)

53 points ain’t nothing to write momma about, if you want to talk #1 center – but Leino’s got game. Ken Holland (that GM who has won Detroit the Stanley Cup) called Leino one of the hardest cuts he ever had to make from the roster after training camp (citation required) before Ville was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sabres fans would be wise to remember that Leino scored the OT winner in Game Six of the 1st Round of the 2011 playoffs between the two teams, a goal from which the Sabres never recovered.

Until now.

Leino is now ours. He may not be Brad Richards, or Spezza, Stastny, or even Joe Pavelski – but he is a Sabre. We now have our 1a and 1b centermen in Derek Roy and Ville Leino. But Pegula and the Sabres may not be done turning over stones to find their gems.

While the defense already features:

  • Regehr-Ehrhoff
  • Myers-Weber
  • Leopold-Gragnani
  • Sekera/McNabb/Pysyk/Schiestel

And the offense features:

  • Stafford-Roy-Vanek
  • Boyes-Leino-Ennis
  • Gerbe-McCormick-Pominville
  • Kaleta-Gaustad-Hecht

We might not be done yet, folks.  Note that glut at defense (which we’ve touched on before).

If you’re not convinced that we are now icing an upgraded unit at center, then look no further than to the trade fodder that is our crop of young stud defensemen to lure another body in.

For now, we already have Regehr, Ehrhoff, and Leino to celebrate and welcome. (Am I dreaming?) Oh, and it never hurts to add another Finn in Leino when you just drafted the Finnish Phenom-duu-jooouuur Joel Armia.

Tomorrow, well, who knows what to expect anymore. This whole Pegula-era has my head spinnin’ in his tail-winds. Still, I can smell another name coming our way in those cool breezes.

Go Sabres.

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