The Blues have reached a deal with defenseman Jordan Leopold. The club's site announced that they have signed Leopold to a two-year, $4.5 million contract. Leopold's average hit against the cap will be $2.25 million a season.
The 32-year-old defenseman (he turns 33 in August) who came over in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres will be making less in 2013-14 than he did in 2012-13. Leopold just completed a three-year, $9 million contract, but the Blues have him locked in at $2.25 million a season.
This might sound like a broken record, but this is another strong contract for the St. Louis Blues. It was believed that Leopold would want a salary in line with his previous contract ($3 million a year) and that he might even command more money if he was to test free agency. Instead, the Blues sign a competent, reliable left-handed defenseman for an extremely low price.
Leopold's numbers aren't flashy. In 625 NHL games he has scored 65 goals and 139 assists for a total of 204 points. In 2012-13, Leopold managed just 10 points in his combined efforts with the Sabres and Blues. However, Leopold's best attributes won't show up in traditional box scores. He's a strong defenseman who can make the safe pass out of his own zone. His offensive capabilities are limited, but Leopold's main responsibilities are in his own zone. His best performances are the ones you never notice. If you haven't seen Leopold in a given game, odds are he's doing his job.
Leopold's signing may catch some by surprise after the Blues elected to give a qualifying offer to Kris Russell. However, the situation became murky when the team then decided to place Russell on waivers. With Kevin Shattenkirk, Roman Polak, Barret Jackman, Ian Cole and Jay Bouwmeester under contract and all signs pointing to the team giving Alex Pietrangelo a new big contract, it wasn't clear how the Blues would handle Leopold.
As it turns out, the Blues were able to retain Leopold for a fair price. He was arguably one of the most appealing defenseman set to hit the open market. Now the Blues have further solidified their defense all without breaking the bank.
Still waiting on Alex Pietrangelo...