This is why Kris Russell was waived. Today the Blues announced the re-signing of pending unrestricted free agent Jordan Leopold. Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres, Leopold has played on the second pairing with young defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and has been credited with calming down a defense that was more than questionable heading into the last half of the season. Leopold, followed by the acquisition of Jay Bouwmeester, was the team's attempt to shore up a defense that was in sore need of some strength on the left hand side.
You can't argue that this was probably a necessary move on the part of the team. Why pursue a free agent on Friday when there was one right here waiting to be signed, and one who played well? Leopold was a -2 with the Blues, which does not speak to the nearly immediate change in the team's defensive ability upon his acquisition. A defense that was all over the place - and one that nearly knocked the Blues out of the playoff hunt - was tightened up significantly.
From the Blues' press release:
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced Wednesday the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Jordan Leopold on a two-year contract.
Leopold, 32, posted two assists in 15 regular season games with the Blues after the club acquired him from Buffalo on Mar. 31 last season. In addition, Leopold dressed in all six games for the Blues during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Overall, the 6-foot-1, 206-pound defenseman has appeared in 10 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons, including stints with Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and St. Louis. For his career, Leopold has registered 204 points (65 goals, 139 assists) and 268 penalty minutes in 625 regular season games as well as 16 assists in 65 postseason games.
The deal is worth $4.5 million for a cap hit of $2,250,000 a season. This is a pay cut from Leopold's previous salary of $3 million a year.