The Buffalo Sabres, after watching veteran defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman leave town as free agents, have added Jordan Leopold to the blue line.
Leopold is an eight-year vet who split last season between Florida and Pittsburgh. Leopold, who turns 30 in August, had seven goals and 11 assists with the Panthers before getting traded to Pittsburgh. He had four goals and four assists in 20 games with the Penguins before getting blanked in the playoffs.
The Minnesota native, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the best collegiate player in 2002 at Minnesota, is 6-foot-1 and weighs 200 pounds. He started his career in Calgary before moving on to Colorado, Florida and the Penguins.
Leopold has played 436 career games with 40 goals, 95 assists, 135 points, a minus-17 rating and 190 penalty minutes.
The Sabres were in the market for a power-play defenseman, and Leopold has some experience. He had 11 man-advantage assists for the Flames in 2003-04 and 2005-06, and he scored eight power-play goals over the two seasons. Last season, however, he had just one goal and one assist on the power play.
"Darcy Regier, the GM, contacted me pretty early and expressed an interest, and they identified Jordan as a guy they followed closely and thought would be a good fit," Leopold's agent, Ben Hankinson, said by phone. "Jordan also had identified Buffalo before July 1 as being a great fit, too. Once I talked to Darcy, we got the deal done pretty quick. It was, I think, a decision that was made for the right reason for both sides.
"Kind of looking at where he might fit in, kind of a good hockey market, good team, moving in the right direction. He has Thomas Vanek, who he friends with, on the team. He played in Florida, he played in Pitt last year, and I think he went to from a nontraditional hockey market to a really good team. I think this is a good combination. It’s not a top-end salary-structured team, but a good fit where he can play a big role and hopefully help these guys make a good run this year."