Now that we got that out of the way, it is time for the other 29 teams to focus on next season. Free agency kicks in for the NHL at noon on July 1st and every year their seems to be more and more action during the summer free agency period. Every year their seem to be one or two players that are the prize of the summer with NHL teams bidding for their signature.
This year's prize is Finnish left winger, Ville Leino.
Leino's salary this past year was $800,000. Do not expect him to be making that next season. Leino will be paid somewhere in the range of $3 million per year, but the question is not if he will get paid, but who will pay him.
Leino tied the rookie record for most points in one Stanley Cup playoffs with Dino Ciccarelli and owns the rookie record for assists in the Stanely Cup finals. This past season Leino dominated and put up 53 points with 34 assists.
However, Leino put together a poor playoff effort this past couple months, but regardless Ville is going to get paid.
Here are five teams that may win out this offseason and snag the late blooming 27-year-old.
For the Flyers, Philly fans better hope they are able to re-sign the left winger. Unfortunately, all signs point to no. Flyers GM, Paul Holmgren, in the last week made some comments that do not exactly instill confidence that Leino will stay in Philly.
"We still have intentions of trying to re-sign Ville . . . but you can only do so much,” Holmgren said. “We’re trying to have the best team available. We’ll see what we can do."
For the Flyers, the biggest hole they will need to fill this summer is goaltending. Their has been speculation that Coyotes Ilya Bryzgalov may be heading to the city of Brotherly Love. If that is the case then Holmgren and the Flyers brass will be unable to afford the deal that Ville will demand.
Ville was asked if he would take a "hometown discount," as some would say, and his response was not very telling, “I don’t know,” he said, laughing. “If I’m going to stay here, I guess I’m going to have to do some discounting.”
In short, Ville better grab stock up on some Philly Cheesesteaks because he may not be their much longer.
The Phoenix Coyotes would strike gold this summer if they were able to nab Leino in free agency. Unfortunately, the Coyotes faithful would have to choose which they would rather have: Leino or Bryzgalov.
The Coyotes would not be able to afford re-signing Bryzgalov and signing Leino. And seeings how the rights of Bryzgalov have already been traded, room has now been made. The Coyotes have eight unrestricted free agents this year, some of which include; Eric Belanger, Radim Vrbata, and Vernon Fiddler.
Phoenix could be loosing some serious offensive fire power and if they are unable to re-sign top guys like Fiddler or Vrbata, then Leino may be their guy.
For a city who needs something to cheer about, Ville may be the guy to get the crowd going.
The Anaheim Ducks could be a solid landing spot for Ville Leino. The Ducks have a few aging guys on the unrestricted free agent roster including: Teemu Selanne, Jarkko Ruutu, Todd Marchant and Brad Winchester.
For a team that some might say overachieved last year, they are a bit older and need a shot of youth. The Ducks not only need a young winger, but they will definitely want the skills of Leino Ville. Ville brings speed overtime he gets a shift on the ice and crashes the net hard.
Many would say the Ducks need to focus on defense, but if their is one player the Ducks should focus on, its Ville. The Ducks look to build off a tremendous season last year by getting more youthful and they do that here if they are able to dish out the dough.
New York Islander fans, it is time to get on your feet, for the first time this season. The underachieving Isles have been a bottom of a barrel team even with the great skill of John Tavares, but he is only one man. In a couple of weeks Tavares may have a new line-mate.
The Isles are one of the few teams who have not been caught up in over spending and had to get rid of players, instead they are one of the few who have money to spend. This would be a huge addition to the Isles and would bring instant offensive explosion to a team dying to light the lamp more often.
We know Ville looks good in orange, add a little blue and you have a top flight left winger to a re-building franchise like that of New York.
The Maple Leafs are in a re-building phase, and a player the likes of Ville Leino would be an enormous add-on to an up-and-coming franchise. The fact that the Maple Leafs have a lot of options and versatility from their top line to their third line, Leino can play on any of them.
Teaming up with Tyler Bozak on the top line will allow Bozak to have that same success he has in his rookie season. He could be paired on the second line with Mikhail Grabovski and Colby Armstrong and pending what other signings the Leafs make he could really line up anywhere.
The Leafs have quite a bit of cash to dish out, so the Finnish winger will definitely get his pay day. Their is quite a bit to like with Toronto as they move forward bringing their franchise to a playoff caliber level.
Who will win the Ville Leino sweepstakes? Only time will tell, but do not be surprised when these teams become the front runners for him, come July 1st.
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