The newest face on the St. Louis Blues roster is Jordan Leopold, a defenseman acquired by the team in a trade that sent two draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres. Leopold will make his St. Louis debut against the Minnesota Wild, wearing the number 33.
Other than the fact Leopold is a defeseman and is supposed to boost the team's shaky efforts at the blueline, what should you know about the newest Blue?
At 32, Leopold has already spent 10 years in the NHL. His time has been split between the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers and most recently the Buffalo Sabres. He has skated in 610 NHL games, scoring 65 goals, 137 assists (202 points) while earning a plus/minus of (-30). Leopold has appeared in 59 playoff games, contributing 16 assists.
Leopold initially broke into the NHL as an offensive minded defenseman, but he has since shifted his role into a "defense first" blueliner.
The defenseman is aware that his role in the NHL is to limit the opponent's offense. Any offense he contributes personally is a bonus.
Jordan Leopold: "I try to keep things pretty simple. I'm not a flashy player. I try to compliment my d-partner & make him better out there."— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) March 31, 2013
Leopold is a player that eats up plenty of minutes. For Buffalo, he had the second highest average time on the ice per game, checking in at just over 21 minutes a contest. The Blues have already stated that he's a top-4 guy, or, a guy that will likely play with Kevin Shattenkirk but could skate with Alex Pietrangelo. He will be on the first or second pairing.
The numbers really only tell part of the story. I asked the folks over at Die by the Blade, a terrific Sabres blog, what their view on Leopold was.
@frozennotes He's a good skating, puck-moving dman. Class act on & off ice. play has been very inconsistent this year, opposite of last few— diebytheblade (@diebytheblade) April 1, 2013
Good skating. Blues definitely need that. Puck-moving defenseman. Blues definitely need someone that can pass the puck out of the zone without turning it over. Class act. Well, that certainly fits in well with some of the terrific guys in the St. Louis organization. Always nice to hear a guy is respected both on and off the ice.
Now for the negative. Leopold has apparently been inconsistent in Buffalo this year, a trend that's drastically different than what he's shown in previous seasons. This is a difficult comment to analyze without actually reviewing the tapes. Leopold was skating with a team that's struggled defensively, allowing an average of 3.03 goals a game (25th in the NHL). They've also struggled offensively, scoring an average of 2.50 goals a game (21st in the NHL).
Was Leopold's inconsistent play with Buffalo this year directly his fault or a by-product of the lineup around him? We won't know until we can watch him with a new cast of teammates.