Panthers Send Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh
It's a solid move for the Penguins, and perhaps a surprising one since the popular consensus seemed to link them to one of the many forwards that could be available before Wednesday's deadline. And make no mistake, they could still be players for a forward. This trade does, however, create a log-jam of sorts along the blue line.
Leopold joins a defense corps that already has Sergei Gonchar, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski, Mark Eaton, Jay McKee and Martin Skoula. Obviously, that's one too many players. The only ones under contract beyond this season are Orpik and Goligoski.
The obvious move would be to simply place Skoula on waivers; but which one of the remaining seven rearguards sits as a healthy scratch on a given night? It's possible that there's still another trade coming from the Penguins involving one of their defensemen.
For Leopold, 29, it will be his fourth team in two years, having also played with Colorado, Calgary and Florida. He was acquired at last year's deadline by the Flames (from Colorado), and then sent to Florida in the offseason as part of a package for Jay Bouwmeester.
The Penguins will be on the hook for a cap hit of about $380,000 for the remainder of the season, and Leopold is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.
He has some offensive ability with seven goals and 11 assists in 61 games, and is a willing shot blocker, credited with 107.
For Florida, it's another second-round pick added to the cupboard after it acquired a similar package (a 2011 second-round pick from Montreal) for forward Dominic Moore prior to the Olympics. Just before the trade freeze Panthers ownership sent a letter to fans preparing them for a potential fire sale.