The Detroit Red Wings traded forward Ville Leino to the Philadelphia Flyers today for defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft.
Leino has been the subject of trade speculation for some time now, especially with forward Johan Franzen on the verge of returning to action. The Finnish forward has been a disappointment this season, scoring only four goals and adding three assists in 42 games with Detroit. Leino has often been a healthy scratch and has been called out several times for his poor effort. However, after losing the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, the Flyers may look to Leino to add some offensive depth for a long playoff run. With the injuries in Detroit this season, more pressure was placed on Leino to perform well. In Philly, the 26-year-old may thrive in a situation with less pressure to perform, especially if he gets time alongside guys like Richards or Carter.
Tollefsen, an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, should add some toughness to the Red Wings lineup and perhaps even help rejuvenate a defensive unit that plays with lackluster effort at times. With Tollefsen not afraid to drop the gloves, this could signal the end of Brad May’s playing time with the Wings. It’s been rumored that the Wings will waive May and send him to the minors where he may finish out the season before retiring.
The Red Wings were expected to drop salary in order to accommodate the return of Franzen this coming Tuesday. If Andreas Lilja returns after the Olympic break, which he is expected to, the Wings will need to clear additional salary cap space to fit them both in. However, the difference in salary between Leino and Tollefsen is only $200,000. This leads me to believe that the Wings aren’t done moving bodies yet. By waiving May, the Wings will gain an additional $500,000 under the cap. Ken Holland has stated several times that he doesn’t want to carry any more than seven defenseman on the roster. By adding Tollefsen, the Wings now have eight (nine when Lilja returns). With all things considered, defensemen Brett Lebda and Derek Meech could both be on their way out of Detroit within the next few days. Moving those two salaries would free up approximately $1.1 million in cap space. Add in the $500,000 from waiving May and the $200,000 cleared in the Leino deal and the Wings are under by almost $1.8 million, which should be enough to fit Lilja and Franzen back under the cap.
* All numbers are salaries according to cap space, not actual salary per season