The St. Louis Blues have finally addressed their need for help at defense. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Blues have acquired Jordan Leopold from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. The condition hinges on the team's success in the playoffs. If the Blues win a playoff round, Buffalo receives a fourth-round pick. If not, it's a fifth.
Leopold, 32, has skated in 24 games with the Sabres in 2013. He's a left-handed defenseman, something the Blues have desperately needed, and has two goals and six assists on the year.
The defenseman is in the final year of a three-year, $9 million deal.
The 2013 season is Leopold's 10th years in the NHL, splitting time between Calgary, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Florida and Buffalo before now joining St. Louis.
Just hours after GM Doug Armstrong commented on the steep price of available options near the deadline, he pulls the trigger on a trade that brings Leopold to St. Louis and sends two picks, one of which is conditional, out to Buffalo.
Clearly, the Blues needed to do something about their defense. At times, the defense has been simply dreadful. On a typical night, the Blues might limit the opponent to just 20-25 shots. The issue lies in the fact that of those 20 or 25 chances, numerous ones are opportunities in extremely dangerous areas. As a result, the Blues will allow four or five goals despite only a handful of shots testing the St. Louis frame.
Will Leopold improve the St. Louis defense? He certainly won't hurt. At the very least a new face should light a fire under the other defenseman now that a move has been made that essentially says that the current group hasn't been getting the job done.
Doug Armstrong commented that the Blues will have eight NHL defenseman on the roster the rest of the season.
Right off the top, I'll admit that I don't know a great deal about Leopold as a player. From his NHL.com stats, I can see that he's a -30 player for his career, but let's be honest: There's a big difference in playing in a system like Hitchcock's, which emphasizes defensive responsibility from everyone (provided that they buy in...), and playing primarily for teams that have recently been perpetually on the outside looking in on the playoffs (Calgary, Colorado, Buffalo).
From his physical stats, he also doesn't seem to be as big as I think folks might've been expecting, to solve the crease clearing problem that has befallen the Blues as their D has become smaller and more offense-oriented in recent years.
Other than that, I'm not really sure what to say. Maybe this turns into the needed shake-up move for the team, maybe it doesn't. Maybe he quickly gels with Shattenkirk, and maybe not. All we can do at this point is wait and see, while wondering if Armstrong has anything else up his sleeve.
@miendiem When he originally came up he was positioned as an offensive defenseman. That role has changed some, but I fully expect he'll be involved on the PK and PP. He's already been discussed as a top-4 guy, so I think it'll help quite a bit.
@David Rogers The St. Louis Blues or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust Doug Armstrong
Pretty much that. In these situations where I'm not sure of a move personally, it's easiest just to trust Army. He's got enough of a track record of being right that I can generally convince myself that things will work out regarding the personnel moves he makes.