Why The Minnesota Wild Shouldn’t Trade For Jordan Leopold


After the acquisition of Sean Bergenheim, the Minnesota Wild have now been linked to trading for Jordan Leopold of the Columbus Blue Jackets

Reported on 02/27/2015 by Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher has reached out to the Columbus Blue Jackets with the intention of trading for defenseman Jordan Leopold. The 34-year-old Golden Valley native is a pending unrestricted free agent and is certainly available, but the Wild shouldn’t trade for him. It’s nothing against Leopold, as he’s a proven shutdown blue liner that plays with a great amount of grit and there’s not much in the way of available defensemen with the trade deadline looming. The fact of the matter is that the Minnesota Wild have a stacked top-6 and a shallow prospect pool.

A (very) Brief History of Leopold:

Originally from the Minneapolis area, Leopold played NCAA hockey for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers before being drafted in the second round, 44th overall of the 1999 NHL entry draft by the Anaheim Ducks. Playing 4 full seasons with the Gophers, Leopold won the Hobey Baker award his senior season before moving to the NHL and joining the Calgary Flames, who acquired his rights.

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Leopold bounced around from team to team, spending time with the Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and the St. Louis Blues before being traded from the Blues to the Blue Jackets. This means the Wild is familiar with Leopold and his style of play, so that’s a plus.

The Wild’s current defense:

Here’s where things get a little dicey. If the Wild acquire Jordan Leopold, They’ll have 8 NHL caliber defensemen for 6-7 spots, so someone will have to come out of the lineup. Jonas Brodin, Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella, and Jared Spurgeon are all locked for the top-four. This leaves Mathew Dumba, Christian Folin, and Nate Prosser as the odd-men out. So, who comes out?

Mathew Dumba is a budding offensive defenseman who has played out of his mind since the win in Calgary. Christian Folin, the highly touted college free-agent, has developed well in to a puck-moving defenseman and has great size. Nate Prosser is great on the PK and plays with grit. Looking at statistics, it gets even more convoluted.

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As you can see, Leopold can eat huge minutes but really doesn’t contribute offensively. He also spends a majority of his time in the defensive zone. Because of their similarities in stats and style of play, Prosser would logically be the player to come out of the line up; however, the Wild openly admit they like him on the Penalty Kill.

The nice thing is that Leopold is a left shot while Prosser shoots right, which means the Wild could even out all three pairs. That may seem tempting, but Prosser and Leopold are basically a wash in terms of play type and Prosser only carries a cap hit of $700,000 compared to Leopold’s $1.75 Million.

In terms of depth additions, because that’s the idea behind grabbing Leopold, Justin Falk and Jonathon Blum are both available from Iowa for call-ups. Blum offers a puck moving, offensive style but leaves something to be desired in the defensive end where Falk is pretty good in the defensive end and on the penalty kill.

Cost of Addition:

This is my biggest issue. When Leopold was traded from the Blues to the Blue Jackets, he was worth a 5th round pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft. Because the trade market is fairly thin and the Blue Jackets are looking to rebuild some key pieces, I think the asking price is going to be a 3rd-5th round pick or a late pick plus a player. The Wild have put themselves in a situation where there are few moveable pieces. They aren’t going to give up any of the youngsters, and most of the veterans have no trade clauses. The Wild already gave up a 3rd round pick in this year’s draft to acquire Devan Dubnyk and a 3rd round draft pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft to acquire Sean Bergenheim. With a thin talent pool in Iowa and several unproven commodities in the CHL/NCAA, the Minnesota Wild really can’t afford to give up much more in terms of draft picks.

I get it. It would be really nice to shore up the defense with a responsible veteran rather than two sophomores that have yet to truly prove themselves. It all comes down to price and product. The Minnesota Wild can’t afford to shed draft picks for an experienced bottom pair defender when the current blueline is really, really solid.

Next: Counterpoint: The Wild Should Trade for Lepold