Let the buyouts begin.
The Canucks have placed David Booth on waivers with the utterly unsurprising intent of using their second compliance buyout on the failed winger.
Booth made more of a mark in the wilderness than he ever did on the ice, which is the main reason why he will soon get a huge payout to not play for Vancouver anymore. He had his good moments along the way, including a fairly useful run on the team’s revamped third line toward the end of last season, but overall the past two years have been tough. Various injuries limited Booth to just 12 goals in 78 games — pretty lousy production for a guy who counted for $4.25 million against the cap.
Booth, who had one year remaining on his deal, can still be a useful player — he has good size, decent speed and plays a strong possession game — so it’s likely that he’ll be picked up by somebody after July 1. But any team that is willing to take a chance on him will be eying him for a depth role, and a salary that makes more sense.
Also, earlier today, John Vogl of the Buffalo News reported that the Sabres had placed Ville Leino — long the whipping boy of Buffalo fans — on waivers and would officially buy him out.
Leino’s six-year, $27 million contract looked comically bad when it was first signed in 2011. It looks worse now after he scored just 10 goals in 137 games for the Sabres, including the goose egg he put up in 58 games in 2013-14.
Leino’s agent, Markus Lehto, told the paper that his client’s priority is to play in the NHL. “He knows he’s a very good NHL player. Obviously, the past two seasons have been just average, I would say, but I’m not going to go and try and analyze what happened. I mean, we’ll just look forward.”
That’s nice of him to say, but the reality is that Leino has been anything but a very good player since he cashed in on his career-best 19-goal, 53-point season with the Flyers in 2010-11. In Buffalo, he looked lost most nights and disengaged on too many others. The statistics say that the 30-year-old Leino’s best years are behind him. So are his chances of another decent NHL payday.
Maybe someone will take a low-dough risk on Leino with an eye on returning him full-time to the wing, — the Sabres insisted on cramming him into a role as a center — in hopes that he can provide some secondary scoring. In the right circumstances, with minimal pressure, maybe he could. Seems more likely, though, that a return to Europe is in Leino’s future.