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Red Wings re-sign Leino to two-year deal

by Dan Rosen
The Detroit Red Wings held on to one of their own Monday, signing left wing Ville Leino to a two-year, $1.6-million contract.

Since July 1, the Wings have watched as Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky left for Chicago, Mikael Samuelsson departed for Vancouver and Ty Conklin for St. Louis. All this was to be expected as the Wings operate close to the salary cap, but Leino was one GM Ken Holland wanted to keep.

Leino, 25, had five goals and nine points in 13 regular-season games and 2 assists in seven postseason games this past season, his first in North America.

Playing the majority of the season for Grand Rapids of the AHL, Leino posted 15 goals and 46 points during the regular season, then led the club in scoring during the Calder Cup Playoffs, finishing with three goals and 13 points in 10 playoff games. He originally signed with the Red Wings on May 10, 2008.

The Wings also are hoping to get a contract taken care of with restricted free agent Jiri Hudler, who was one of 20 players to file for salary arbitration before Sunday's 5 p.m. ET deadline. Holland is hopeful the Wings and Hudler can avoid going in front of an arbiter by coming to terms this week.

Arbitration hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20-Aug. 4.

Once Hudler has a new deal, the Wings will have 12 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies under contract for next season.

Holland knew his chances of re-signing any of the Wings' unrestricted free agents were minimal after he gave Henrik Zetterberg a 12-year contract and Johan Franzen an 11-year deal during the regular season.

"We had our July 1 twice this season -- once in January when we signed Henrik Zetterberg and again in March when we signed Johan Franzen," Holland told last week. "Add in all the other players we have under contract and we had $2-3 million to play with."

Leino, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm will take on bigger roles for the Wings, while Jimmy Howard will be given the chance to supplant Conklin as the backup to Chris Osgood. Howard is under a one-way contract for the next two years.

"Leino, Abdelkader and Helm are ready," Holland said. "We think Valtteri Filppula, at age 25, can take a step forward. Jiri Hudler can take a step forward. We have a power forward we like in Franzen and two elite players in Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. The cap world is not designed for you to have these guys and go get a Hossa. The salary cap is working. It's a level playing field."
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