He wasn't a big-name acquisition, like Ilya Kovalchuk, but Flyers winger Ville (rhymes with Philly) Leino has been a key pickup for general manager Paul Holmgren.
With Jeff Carter and James van Riemsdyk sidelined by injuries, not only has Leino gotten a chance to crack the lineup, but he's also playing on a top line and getting power-play minutes.
Leino, a Finland native acquired from Detroit on Feb. 6, has been inserted onto a line with winger Simon Gagne and center Danny Briere. The line combined for six points and was plus-six Sunday, leading the Flyers' critical 5-1 win over New Jersey.
For Leino, a healthy scratch in nine of his first 11 games with the Flyers, the opportunity to finally get into the lineup has made him feel a part of the team.
"It's all about your confidence and how you feel," said Leino, who had a goal and an assist in the victory against the Devils. "You feel you have a little spot and feel like you're getting into the game's flow. You know where to go and don't have to think out there. It takes a little extra load off you."
Leino, 26, a one-time phenom in Finland, has two goals in nine games with the Flyers. His performance against the Devils was an eye-opener for coach Peter Laviolette.
"He was very noticeable with the puck and his individual skill, which ultimately set other players up and made them better hockey players," Laviolette said the other day. "He got time and space, and he really set the tone" for the line."
The Flyers need the line to continue blossoming because the team's offense has been in a funk the last three-plus weeks. Excluding the injured Carter (broken foot), Gagne has been the Flyers' only consistent scorer in that span.
The Flyers have six games remaining, including tomorrow night's matchup with the Islanders in Long Island. Leino figures to be in the lineup in all six.
"When you don't play much, you sometimes don't have that feeling," he said of his early-season slump with Detroit.
Leino showed promise early in his career, registering 46 points in 57 AHL games with Grand Rapids last season. In 2007-08, he was named the Finnish Elite League's MVP after recording 77 points (28 goals, 49 assists) in 55 games.
He also had a strong showing with the Red Wings late last season, contributing five goals and four assists in 13 games.
But the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder struggled with Detroit this season - four goals in 42 games - and was dealt to the Flyers because they needed to clear cap space to enable Johan Franzen to return from an injury.
Rather than risk losing him through waivers, Detroit traded him for defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-round draft choice in 2011.
Leino, who considers himself more of a playmaker than scorer, was happy to get a fresh start, and he is excited about the possibility of returning to the playoffs. With Detroit last season, he contributed a pair of assists while playing four games against Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals.
"I'm just enjoying hockey right now," he said. "Last year, we went pretty far, and it's a great buzz. It's just exciting. Spring is here, and the weather is going to be nice, and you know it can end any given day. So it's a special time of the year to be playing."
Injury updates. Van Riemsdyk, who missed Sunday's game with a knee injury, skated yesterday, and Holmgren was optimistic he could play tomorrow. "But we'll see how he is in practice" today, the general manager said.
Goalie Johan Backlund (groin) was also making progress and might be able to dress for tomorrow's game.