Two people familiar with the Sabres' decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the team has placed Leino on waivers for the purpose of buying out the remaining three years of his contract.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres didn't announce the move, which was made a day after the NHL's buyout period began.
Leino was set to make $11 million over the final three years of a six-year, $27 million contract. Should he go unclaimed on 24-hour waivers, the Sabres would buy out Leino's contract by paying him two-thirds of what he's owed.
One of the people also told the AP that the Vancouver Canucks placed forward David Booth on waivers for the purpose of buying out the remaining two years on his contract.
The Sabres' decision on Leino did not come as a surprise. In April, general manager Tim Murray called buying out Leino as "a very good possibility."
Leino was bracing for the possibility of being a buyout candidate after the season ended.
Inconsistent play and a series of injuries contributed to Leino being a huge disappointment in Buffalo.
The seventh-year player managed no goals and 15 assists in 58 games last season. And he finished with just 10 goals and 46 points in 137 games with the Sabres. That was a considerable drop-off from Leino's previous four seasons, in which he combined for 30 goals and 73 points in 149 games split between Detroit and Philadelphia.
The Sabres had high hopes for Leino to be a fixture on one of their top two lines.
They signed him as part of a series of big splashes in the summer of 2011 in owner Terry Pegula's bid to build an immediate contender. The Sabres also acquired defenceman Robyn Regehr in a trade with Calgary, and acquired the rights to defenceman Christian Ehrhoff, and signed him to a 10-year, $40 million contract before the start of free agency.
The moves ultimately backfired. The Sabres have missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, and are coming off one of their franchise's worst finishes. In placing last in the overall standings, Buffalo (21-51-10) set a post-NHL-expansion-era low by scoring 150 goals and a franchise record for losses.