With the 2013 season all but lost, the Buffalo Sabres have for weeks been expected to be sellers as the trade deadline nears. The Sabres made their first big move on Saturday, sending defenseman Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a pair of draft picks. Leopold was in the final year of his contract and set to become an unrestricted free agent. With an eye to the future, there aren’t many veteran players on the Sabres’ roster who haven’t heard their name come up (Ryan Miller, Drew Stafford) in trade rumors over the past few weeks. Trading Leopold is likely the first of many moves the Sabres will make before Wednesday, and the team did well in getting two picks back for the underperforming defenseman.
Leopold has two goals and eight points in 24 games this season, while averaging 21 minutes of ice time. He was also a minus-6, the second-worst mark amongst the Sabres; defensemen in that category (Tyler Myers, minus-7). Originally an Anaheim Ducks draft pick, Leopold has played in 610 NHL games for the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Sabres. He has scored at least 10 goals in each of the last three seasons and has 202 career points.
The Sabres acquired the Blues’ second round pick in this year’s draft, as well as a conditional fifth-round pick. As they try and rebuild for coming seasons, those picks could end up being very important. The trade also benefits Leopold, as he gets to move from the Sabres to a playoff-bound Blues team, where he will join a skilled defense corps that includes Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo.