Monday, March 1, 2010

Pens acquire defenseman

Monday, the Penguins got the trade deadline frenzy started by acquiring Jordan Leopold from Florida for a 2010 second round pick.

Jordan Leopold. Really? Really, Ray? Jordan Leopold? You sure about that?

That's all.

(Updated 8 p.m. ET.)

OK, some actual analysis. This is still a head-scratcher. The Penguins have two main needs: A scoring winger (this has been true for about nine years) and a rugged, physical defensive defenseman.

Jordan Leopold is a defenseman. That's the only criteria above that he meets. He's cheap, which suggests maybe perhaps Pittsburgh might want to re-sign him. Right now, the Penguins have only two defensemen under contract for 2010-11.

Leopold logged a lot of minutes in Florida and might find himself playing a top-four role in Pittsburgh, which would bump Mark Eaton, a very steady shot-blocking stay-at-home player, down to the third pairing. That would result in either Alex Goligoski or Jay McKee watching from the press box.

Goligoski would've won the Norris Trophy if voting ended after October. That's how good a month he had, both offensively and defensively. But he's been in a significant funk since suffering consecutive injuries in a short period of time. McKee ranked among the league leaders in blocked shots and then saw his game tail off after an injury.

So at this point, I suppose maybe Leopold is better than one of those two. But he still doesn't fit what the Penguins need right now.

Is Goligoski or Kris Letang on the move? Hard to believe Ray Shero would part with either of those players unless the return is significant. Letang is a more well-rounded player than Goligoski at this point but is a restricted free agent following the season. Also a right-handed shooter, Letang would bring more value. Goligoski is one of those two defensemen signed beyond this season.

Worst case, this trade gives Pittsburgh more depth on the blue line. But if it's the only move Shero makes, he will not have plugged either hole in his team's lineup.

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