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Wings trade Leino to Flyers

by Adam Kimelman
With a number of injured forwards nearing a return to health, the Detroit Red Wings were left with too many quality players and not enough space to play them.

To ease the backlog, the Wings on Saturday traded left wing Ville Leino to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.

The Wings signed the undrafted Leino in the summer of 2007 following a stellar career in the Finnish Elite League. In 2007-08 he had 28 goals and 77 points in 59 games with Jokerit, and was named league MVP.

He spent most of last season with the Wings’ AHL team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he scored 46 points in 57 games, good for fifth on the team. He then led the club in scoring in the playoffs with 13 points in 10 games.

In 13 NHL games, he had 5 goals and 9 points, and he had 2 assists in seven playoff games.

This season, though, he wasn’t producing at the same rate, with just 4 goals and 7 points in 42 games, and he had been a healthy scratch the last six games. To get him to the AHL, the Wings would have needed to put him through waivers and chance losing him for nothing.

Instead, they dealt him to the Flyers for Tollefsen, who had become expendable with the recent signing of Lukas Krajicek. Tollefsen has fought a number of injuries this season, including a concussion and sprained knee, and has just 2 assists in 18 games. He also was selected to play for his native Norway at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Wings immediately placed Tollefsen on waivers, and if he clears, he'll be sent to Grand Rapids.

"Ville is a skilled forward that is going to give us some depth," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "I think he has the ability to play up and down our lineup and play with our skilled players. We're excited to have him."

Leino joined the team in Minnesota on Friday, but didn't play. He could be in the lineup Monday when the Flyers open a home-and-home set with the New Jersey Devils.

"Sometimes things don't go as you plan it with your team," Leino told the Flyers' Web site. "The trade happened, and I am happy to be going to a good team like Philadelphia. I have heard a lot of good things about Philly and I am looking forward to playing and proving myself to Philadelphia. I am pretty happy about this trade.

"I consider myself a skilled player. My talent is more on the offensive side of the rink, but I would like to consider myself as a contributor in the defensive zone, too. I am hoping to produce some offense and help the team get some points and win games."

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