The Buffalo Sabres sent 32-year-old veteran Jordan Leopold to St. Louis Saturday afternoon in exchange for a pair of draft picks. But was it just a run-of-the-mill pre-deadline deal...or the first sign of an impending First Niagara Center fire sale?
We'll know more in a couple days, but if Buffalo GM Darcy Regier uses this as a model to deal with the rest of his impending UFAs, it'll be a step in the right direction for the beleaguered franchise. Leopold was not going to be re-signed, so for Regier to snag a second and a fifth (which graduates to a fourth if the Blues get out of the second round of the playoffs) is a win for the Sabres.
The key for Buffalo: Don't stop the dismantling here.
In St. Louis, the need for blueline help was made apparent by the current three-game losing streak. Wade Redden and Ian Cole are extremely limited in terms of what they can bring to the table. Leopold has his flaws too, but he's a clear step up from both. He's a lefty, which they needed. He's mobile and he can chew up the minutes -- he averaged better than 21 per game in Buffalo while playing in all situations. He could step in and play alongside either Alex Pietrangelo or Kevin Shattenkirk on their top-four.
Something tells me Ken Hitchcock's system might prove to be a better fit for style, as well.
And if nothing else, he's a proven veteran presence. And that's something every team with playoff aspirations benefits from stockpiling.