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2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Ville Leino

With the 2011-12 Buffalo Sabres ending in disappointment and after a few weeks for us to gather our thoughts, it’s time for us to issue our report cards on the season. Over the next few weeks, we’ll grade every player that wore a Buffalo Sabres uniform in 2011 and 2012, from Luke Adam to Mike Weber.

2011 – Ville Leino 71 8 17 25 -2 16 1 0 1 78 10.3

Introduction: Ville Leino was a massive bust. That argument cannot be denied and it’s not what this article will be about. The argument around Leino, I believe, is just how big a bust was he – can he improve on last season or is he simply a sunk cost at this point?

Leino was acquired via free agency – at a hefty price – to be the Sabres newest center. Then, the team discovered that he was a terrible center, and he subsequently bounced around on various lines all year, never really getting comfortable with his line mates, and finished the year as one of the team’s most universally despised players (Brad Boyes says hi.) Let’s dive in a bit more deeply to Leino’s disappointing season after the break.

Key Stat: Leino’s 78 shots this season rank him fifteenth on the team, and would rank him fifth among Sabres defensemen! He had a decent 10.3% shot percentage, but his low shot total is partly to blame for his scoring so few goals this season. Lindy Ruff commented that Leino needs to use his shot more often, and for a “scoring” forward earning his salary, 78 shots simply won’t cut it.

Thumbs Up: Leino’s strength is puck possession, and he has great hands, but his unorthodox twist-along-the-boards style often leaves either himself or his teammates out of position. He’s an OK hitter and shot blocker, ranking right in the middle for both stats. Ville was pretty disciplined, only taking eight minor penalties all season, and performed just about the same on the road as he did at home. Had more takeaways than giveaways. He’s only here for 5 more years – just kidding. (Ed note: only kinda)

Thumbs Down: Leino’s faceoff percentage was a dismal 41.3 percent – a center, he is not. Despite receiving over a minute of power play time per game, he finished the season with one measly point. He’s not a consistently physical player, and doesn’t play the PK. We discussed his lack of shooting above, and to top it off he’s not very speedy, nor does he have great moves – he did not score on his only shootout attempt. The icing on the cake is that Leino did not rank higher than 246th in the NHL in any statistical category listed before the break, aside from shorthanded goals, of which he had 0. When I type “Ville Leino” into our photo finder, the first 10 pages that come up are all of him in a Flyers uniform.

Voting On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Ville Leino on his season according to the expectations you had for him. If he met them, give him a five or a six. If he eclipsed them, aim for a seven or beyond. If he failed to meet them, give him a lower number relating to how poorly he missed the target.

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how would you rate Ville Leino for his 2011-12 season?

1 219
2 209
3 137
4 66
5 22
6 12
7 3
8 3
9 1
10 19

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