Around 5:30 p.m., news came across the wire that the Sabres had inked the 7-year vet to a 3-year deal. The AP reports that “Monetary terms of the deal were not immediately available, but it’s expected that Leopold will get about $3 million a season.”
Leopold put up 26 points last year (11 goals, 15 assists) in 81 games played, numbers similar to Daniel Paille and Jochen Hecht (both 12g and 15a). Leopold spent the first 61 games with the Florida Panthers, and finished out the last 20 with the Pittsburgh Penguins after being traded during the Olympic break.
He totaled 28 penalty minutes last year and finished with a minus-2 rating, numbers that put him right in the middle of the pack on the Sabres roster. If you look closely, you can chalk his negative rating up to being a good player on a bad team: 75 percent of his season was spent with Florida where he was a minus-7, but in the quarter of his year spent with Pittsburg, he went plus-5.
His ice time per game with Florida was 22:25, which would have led all Buffalo players not named Tyler Myers.
Through 436 career games, the former second round draft pick (Anaheim, 1999) has tallied 45 goals and 95 assists. He also has 54 playoff games under his belt–including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals with Calgary in 2004–and has appeared in each of the last three post-seasons.
Although he was once labeled as injury prone (missed time for the following ailments, 2006-‘08: hernia surgery (25 games), groin injury (17), fractured wrist (remainder of season), hip problem and lacerated leg (35 games), pneumonia, and concussion), he played in 164 regular season games over the last two years.
Defensemen Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder both signed deals with new teams earlier today (the Ducks and Devils, respectively), but Leopold will fill the void. He is not known for his physical play (less than a hit per game last season), but he scored more goals last year than Lydman and Tallinder combined. He may not be the “power play quarterback” people want Darcy to bring in, but he did see nearly 100 minutes of PP time last year, which would put him fourth among Buffalo defensemen.
Stay tuned for more free agency news and reactions.
Birthday: August 3, 1980
Weight: 200 lbs
Birth place: Golden Valley, Minn.