Red Wings sign Finnish free agent
Leino was in the same position that Swedish free agent Fabian Brunnstrom was before signing with Dallas this week in that he could sign with any NHL team with no compensation going to his Finnish club.
Leino was second in the Finnish elite league in scoring this season with 77 points in 59 games. His 28 goals were third in the league and his 49 assists topped the circuit.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said tonight that the Red Wings are interested in Leino and that the Finn would likely spend his first couple of weeks next season in Grand Rapids to get acclimated to the North American game.
"He's a good hockey player," said Holland. "He wants to come over to North America. He's good down low. He led the Finnish league in scoring (second), so he's got a scoring touch. His goal is to play in the NHL."
Leino spent five seasons in the lower levels in Finnish hockey. He hadn't scored more than 12 goals or 43 points in a season before coming to Jokerit of the elite league this winter.
Before this season, the Red Wings added a Finnish scout, Ari Vouri, to their European staff.