Posts tagged “Ville Leino”

On Leino and Hype

Great post by Drew.

Would Leino have flourished in the Detroit system if he would have stayed?  Maybe, maybe not.  But the same holds true for whether or not he’ll be able to keep the pace as a Flyer.

That last part is key. One thing fans and media who are drooling over Leino seem to forget is that he’s doing this in the playoffs, a highly concentrated tournament with exceptional circumstances that aren’t replicable over the course of a regular season.

This seems like the result of some kind of collective amnesia, like we’ve never seen a player underwhelm in the regular season and then come off the bench hot in the playoffs before. So he’s hot now, as a member of a team that was hot going into the Finals. Let’s see him do it over an 82-game grind. Because his history has shown that he can’t. He couldn’t maintain consistency in the AHL over a long season and he definitely didn’t do it in Detroit, where he had a breakout season gift-wrapped to him by the team’s incessant health problems.

That gets into the first point of Drew’s in the quoted section. I firmly believe Leino would not have flourished with the Wings. He has skill and ability. There’s no denying that. But if you don’t fit the coach’s system or plans for the team, you’re not going to work out. Leino refused to adjust, refused to work with Babcock. The guy had every opportunity, but didn’t earn a consistent spot on the team. In a year with all the injuries the Wings had, there is simply no excuse for a guy with the skill of Ville Leino not to earn a spot in the lineup. His future as a Red Wing was written on the wall over and over again as he was a healthy scratch again and again while less talented but more driven guys like  Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves continued to make it in.

Ville Leino may have what it takes to be a Flyer—at least as part of their miraculous, exceptional playoff run. But he didn’t have what it takes to be a Red Wing. Not under Babcock, anyway.

Dealing Leino a Mistake? No.

Update (10:28 AM): Edited to flesh out thoughts a bit more, brush up some wording, etc. - Matt

Chris at Nightmare on Helm Street suggests it was a mistake to get rid of Ville Leino, given that the guy’s lighting it up for Philadelphia now.

Maybe it looks like a mistake at a glance, but when you consider the apparent issues Leino had in Detroit, I can’t see it as one. The guy just didn’t mesh with the coach or the system here. I’m not an expert in what Laviolette is doing in Philly, but it seems to me that something about him or his system has sparked this change in Leino. If that’s true, keeping him in Detroit would have just perpetuated the suck because the team wasn’t going to change to suit the needs of one player. The Wings have a coach and a system that requires everyone be on the same page, or close to it. Leino wasn’t there.

Chris cites Howard as an example of Holland’s usual patience and contrasts it with his apparent lack of patience with Leino. I guess the difference there is the Wings could wait for Jimmy in GR while they had fine goaltending in Detroit. Leino, on the other hand, had effectively blackmailed his way onto the team and then didn’t back it up consistently. It’s sort of apples to oranges to compare a kid in the AHL to a guy leeching on your roster in the NHL.

Some players just don’t work out in a given situation. That they end up working out in another is not necessarily a mark against the GM who moved him. Keeping him in Detroit would have been a waste of a roster spot and cap space at best and a drag on the on-ice product at worst. Holland had no idea how Leino would work out elsewhere. All he had to go on was how he was working out here.

Leino to Philadelphia

Update (12:10 PM): St. James is all over this: she now says Tollefsen will be put on waivers today with the aim of sending him to Grand Rapids if he clears. If he gets taken, the Wings may not be too disappointed. They got rid of Leino like they had to do. Tollefsen was basically a bonus.

Meanwhile, where’s the rest of the Detroit print media? So far, Bruce MacLeod’s the only other writer to chime in.  - Matt

Update (11:41 PM): Not sure if St. James is going off old news here, but if not, Franzen won’t be back today. - Matt

CBC’s Jeff Marek just tweeted that the Wings have traded Ville Leino to Philly for a fifth round pick in 2011 and defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen ($600,000). No word from the Detroit media just yet (of course).

Whoa. Not exactly a high price. Ville may have better luck in Philly, with Laviolette something of a player’s coach, if I’m not mistaken.

This could mean Franzen’s back today, but more likely, he’s still scheduled for Tuesday. It’ll be interesting to see the answer on that question, though.

As for Tollefsen, I’m surprised the Wings took anything other than picks in return for Leino. He’s only played in 18 games for the Flyers. He has to be headed to Grand Rapids.

Cap Talk

Update (8:17 PM): Just realized I left a hole in this post: if Lilja can’t make it back in a meaningful way, the Wings will only be about $650,000 over the cap, which means Leino’s the most likely odd-man out. The question becomes much, much easier in that case.

Easy’s good, but I can’t hope for that. I want Lilja to get back to hockey. Weber’s fists can’t be the way he goes out. - Matt

So, according to Ken Daniels last night, the Wings will be about $1.9 million over the cap assuming everyone comes back with no further injuries to anyone else.

That may be a big assumption on Lilja’s part, as he still has to prove he can take the daily grind of being a hockey player again. The projected conditioning stint in Grand Rapids is going to be hugely important and the Wings are going to have to make a decision based on a scant two weeks. Not a whole lot to go on.

Just for fun, let’s assume Lilja’s going to be healthy and everyone else is going to come back. No more injuries. Isn’t that a fun fantasy?

The Wings need to ship off some cap space, either through waivers or a trade. And I tend to agree with Daniels’ analysis that they won’t be looking to move defensemen. You can’t have too much depth at D and the guys everyone talks about, Lebda and Meech, are dirt cheap. That means two things: their movement won’t mean much and they’re a steal.

And we have a couple guys in Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves that no one wants to see shafted. So we’re looking at forwards, but, I hope, not those two.

May’s a given, I would think. But he’s only pulling in $481,865. More guys have to go. Some possibilities:

Scenario A:

May ($481,865) + Maltby ($883,333) + Leino ($800,000) = $2,165,198. (Roster: 22)

This one bothers me. I don’t care about May and Leino, who have been busts by just about any definition. Leino’s upside would normally make dumping him tough, but he’s shown so little promise in delivering that upside that I’m not attached to him in any way. I like May on a personal level and thing he’s great in front of a camera with a mic in his face. But other than that, he’s dead weight on this team. So no problems there.

It’s, predictably, the Maltby part of the equation that gets me. Maltby is a shadow of his former self. He’s no longer so integral on the PK and is nowhere near the SHed threat he once was. He’s a fourth liner at best these days. But he’s Kirk Maltby and he’s put in years of service for an organization that values that above little else. I would hate to see his career ended on anyone’s terms but his. And it should end with him as a Red Wing.

The math may work here, but if that’s not bad math, I don’t know what is. I know this is a business, but I don’t want to see the Wings become the Tigers and make decisions like that with so little regard for loyalty and character. They’ve painstakingly built a reputation as a team that takes care of its people. I think they value that reputation quite highly, given the return on investment they’ve seen, so I’d be fairly shocked if they unceremoniously dumped Maltby off.

On a tangently-related sidenote, some of my attitude over the Osgood/Howard situation comes from being surprised an organization with such a reputation of even-handedness in the veteran-to-new-guy transition has been so heavy-handed in this scenario. Anyway. Update: By the way, I’m not trying to start another Osgood/Howard debate here. My focus is the cap situation. Unfortunate toss-away comment on my part. - Matt

Scenario B:

May ($481,865) + Jason Williams ($1.5 million) = $1,981,465 (Roster: 23)

This would slide the Wings in just under the cap, presumably. And at first glance, isn’t likely. Williams is meant to be a top six guy on this team, you say. True. But they went without him for nearly half a season. You might respond that the Wings didn’t exactly tear it up in his absence, so maybe they need him. I’d say I doubt the absence of Jason Williams is the reason the Wings haven’t done better this season.

Think about it: which of the injuries was the biggest, accounting for talent and length (so, not Zetterberg)? Franzen, followed closely by Kronwall. So maybe the Wings win a few more games with Williams around, but I wouldn’t call him critical like those two. Maybe it’s highly unlikely, but this scenario has the benefit of the Wings already seeing how they might do without one of the guys. Not very well, you’d think, until you remember Franzen and Kronwall are back in the picture.

Maybe I like this scenario because I’m not a Williams fan. And maybe I like it because they’ve already traded him in the past. They may just do it again.

Scenario C:

May ($481,865) + Leino ($800,000) + Lebda ($650,000) = $1,931,865 (roster: 22)

I’m sure this is one a lot of people could get behind. Not my wife, who’s a big Lebda supporter, but all of his detractors. This one may be the most likely, which is unfortunate for those of us (Megan and I, and some others) who believe Lebda can be a strong third pairing guy given the right partner (i.e. not a rookie). I think Daniels is right and that the Wings will try not to move a defenseman, but if they are, Lebda’s salary may make bring him forward in Holland’s mind.

Scenario D:

May ($481,865) + Leino ($800,000) + Eaves ($500,000) + Miller ($413,472) = $2,195,337 (Roster: 21)

Yeah, this one’s a mixed bag, eh? Two players we’d love to be rid of and two players we’ve all grown attached to over the course of this screwball season. Two guys who’ve been bright spots through the crap. I hate this option. As I’ve already said, I want to be talking about Helm and Eaves for years to come. And Miller has really shown himself to be a great combination of incredible work ethic and surprising hand-eye coordination that has serious potential for some big goals over a career here. I really don’t want to see either of them traded or waived. Someone would claim them on the wire.

Scenario E:

May ($481,865) + Leino ($800,000) + Meech ($483,333) + Miller ($413,472) = $2,178,670 (Roster: 21)

If, as I hope, Holland finds Eaves too valuable, here’s a possibility. Of the two, Miller’s likely more expendable. And if Holland decides Lebda worth of sticking around, Meech could get the nod. I’ve felt for a while that Meech is a bit of a deadman in the organization as his development’s seemingly been mothballed and he’s been relegated to spare part status when he could have been a Quincey-level player. But he does come at a bargain-basement price and that makes him a handy asset to have.

Scenario X:

Chances are, Holland’s going to figure something out no one else thought of. That’s how he works. So in some days, this is a pointless exercise. But it’s definitely an interesting one.

Of course, it may turn out that Lilja’s can’t make it work.

What do you think?

(numbers via CapGeek).

12/29 Lilja Update

It’s an off day for the Wings, so that means another non-news workday piece from the media. This time it’s on Lilja, who’s still experiencing headaches 10 months on. It’s a good read, if you’re looking to become depressed.

Also, the team got the day off, so it’s doubtful we’ll get an answer to the question coming out of the last paragraph here until tomorrow. I say give Leino a shot at resurrecting chemistry with Filppula, but remind him Ritola’s just a phone call and a two-hour drive away.

Leino Out, Ritola In

Update (3:33 PM): Thought I should clarify what I meant by the horribly-worded “Even with Filppula back, he’s a non-factor.”

Way back at the start of the season, Leino and Filppula had some great chemistry, as you might remember. I assume Babcock remembers that as well. So, to me it’s telling that he’s sitting Leino despite Filppula’s return. You’d think he’d at least give Ville another game to try to regain the magic with Fil, but he’s not.

It doesn’t mean Leino will sit Thursday night as well, but it does tell me he’s majorly deep in Babcock’s doghouse.

If Leino is still the guy who was basically saying “I’d better in the NHL next year or else,” I wonder if he has the mental fortitude to find his way back out into the yard. – Matt

You have to wonder where Ville Leino’s NHL career is headed when he’s being replaced in a depleted, starved-for-offense Red Wings lineup by a minor league call-up. The fact that it’s come to this is a pretty clear indicator that maybe he doesn’t have what it takes. Even with Filppula back, he’s a non-factor.

Is he going to take this as a challenge and actually be better or is he going Axelsson his way back to Finland (either after being sent down to Grand Rapids or after a couple of weeks of sitting)?

Leino to Sit Again, Abdelkader Ascendant

Ansar Khan reports Ville Leino will sit again tomorrow night. Meanwhile, Justin Abdelkader will see time as the second line center when the Eurotwins are together. Miller will be the fourth line center when Abdelkader’s working the second unit.

No surprise on Leino, who has done nothing in weeks to show he belongs in the lineup. As for Abdelkader, that will be interesting. Assuming he’s going in with a mandate to keep it simple, maybe he can find Bertuzzi’s page and create something that way.

Also, Filppula is tantalizingly close to a return, having gotten his cast removed. He should be back by the end of the month.

As expected, Howard will start again.