Ville or Won’t He?

Jeff Angus


Ville Leino

Ville Leino has been one of Philadelphia's best players in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was acquired back in February from Detroit for next to nothing (no offense to Ole-Kristian Tollefsen), and not much was expected of him. He came over to Detroit from Finland in 2008 after recording 77 points in only 58 games for Jokerit of the SM-liiga. He showed flashes of skill during his two years with the Red Wings, but the production wasn't there (only 16 points in 55 games as a Red Wing).


Where does he go from here? Has Leino simply caught fire at the right time of year, or should we be expecting more from him in 2010-11 and beyond?


Leino’s lack of production continued after the trade to Philadelphia. He only scored two goals in 13 regular season games, and was healthy scratched regularly. His first taste of playoff action came in game five against the New Jersey Devils, as he was once again a healthy scratch for the first four games. Since that game, Leino has 12 points in 11 games, and has played less than 13 minutes per game only twice (he played less than 13 minutes in seven of the 13 regular season games after the trade).


Leino (who is only 14 months older than teammate Jeff Carter) will never be mistaken for Marian Gaborik – speed is not is forte. Detroit tried to get him to play more of a power forward game (like Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary), but he likes to make plays with the puck on his stick. He plays the game similarly to former teammate (and at times linemate) Henrik Zetterberg – lots of east-west playing instead of north-south. His shot is decent, his hands are good, and his offensive awareness is excellent.


Ice time is more often than not the great indicator of how a player is performing. Leino has averaged about 16 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs (in his final 11 games as a Red Wing, he averaged 9:30 per game). He got an opportunity on the second line because of injuries to Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter, and he was able to keep the spot by contributing offensively.


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There are players each year that elevate their games in the postseason. John Druce and Fernando Pisani are two examples of this. The playoffs are too small of a sample size to use conclusively to analyze a player, but they do help as an analysis tool if used properly. Leino h