Why The Wild Should Trade for Jordan Leopold


After the acquisition of Sean Bergenheim, the Minnesota Wild have 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, and the Wild should trade for him. The argument for acquiring Leopold is pretty simple, depth is essential, and with the Wild looking like a more likely playoff team than not lately, it would behoove them to add another quality NHL defender. My colleague Alex Trembley wrote about why we shouldn’t trade for him earlier, and this is the counterpoint. But first, I will graciously rip off Alex’s history of Leopold.

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.

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:

In Alex’s article he laid out our defensive corp, and pointed out the depth that the Wild boast at the blue line. I won’t disagree with him there, as I feel like the Wild defensive corp is an underrated squad, and the gains we’ve seen in Matt Dumba‘s play are noticeable. However, my concern is multi-faceted, but revolves around two players- Jared Spurgeon and Nate Prosser.

First, Spurgeon. We have yet to get any kind of official word on him to my knowledge, and the rampant speculation is that he suffered a concussion when struck with the puck against Calgary. Had he just broken his jaw, we would’ve either A) heard about it by now or B) he might have returned already, with a full facemask. The concern over his concussion is very real, and should scare the bejesus out of Wild fans, considering what concussions can do to a player, and the uncertainty that surrounds them. Spurgeon is said to be returning to practice as early as next week, but that’s no guarantee that he’ll return soon. Sure, Spurgeon could return next week, healthy as ever, and play out the rest of the season, but he also could miss the remainder of the season with lingering symptoms. Both scenarios are a little far-fetched, but it shows the ends of the possibility spectrum.

Also to the point of Spurgeon’s situation is even if he returns, an injury to one of our beloved top 4 could still be just around the corner. We all felt the heart stopping panic of Marco Scandella leaving the game for a short amount of time the other night, and we were that close to going from a top 4 to a top 2. So while Spurgeon’s injury may not be season-ending, it’s entirely possible that it is, or even worse, we lose another top defender somewhere along the way.

Secondly, Nate Prosser. I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t hate Nate Prosser, and I think he is what he is, and 6/7 defenseman in the NHL, and nothing more or less. But the comparison between him and Leopold is striking, when some numbers are laid out.

Here’s a ‘HERO’ chart from Ownthepuck.com showing Prosser and Leopold’s profiles.

So as you can see, Leopold compares quite favorably to Prosser in many respects. While I agree with Alex that the Wild clearly like Prosser on the Penalty Kill, as you can see by his solid Fenwick and Corsi against numbers, Leopold also has solid CA/FA numbers, and there’s no reason why he couldn’t be an upgrade on offense while providing virtually the same or better defensive profile.

While I’d like to see Leopold acquired, I’m actually not a hater of Jon Blum, as the team seems to be, and while I’m not a hater of Stu Bickel as much as other bloggers, I’d just rather not see him have to be at risk of playing a game with the NHL club anytime soon. The increased salary that comes with Leopold is worth noting, but given the Wild’s cap room right now, is a rather moot point. Also worth noting is his left-handedness at defense, which is something many Wild fans have been clamoring for all season.

Cost of Addition:

This is where I half-agree with Alex, as I think the Wild should not and will not pay an even remotely high price for Leopold, and nor should they. While I believe Leopold is key depth addition for the Wild and an upgrade over Nate Prosser, dealing a player and a mid round pick is probably too high of a price for him, unless that player is someone the Wild are dumping off, rather than someone with a shred of potential. However, unlike Alex, I think that while the trade market is depressingly slim, we should have to pay that much for Leopold, as a 4 or 5th round pick on its own without an added player should get the deal done. Granted, this is all purely speculation on both Alex and my parts, but I think acquiring Leopold for just a mid level pick is worth the trouble, given their postseason trajectory, and even Leopold’s haters can’t be too upset with that deal. No one knows what the price is to land him at this point, obviously, but I’m optimistic that we can land him without adding a crucial extra piece.

So I’d like to see them add Leopold, but obviously not at any cost. I think his skillset and cost are a great depth addition to the Wild blueline, and while I hope we don’t have use him in a top four capacity, I feel better with him there than Prosser. The whole #oneofus thing, is not really an added bonus for me, but more of a punchline, but I think he’d be a good addition regardless.

Next: Counterpoint: The Wild Shouldn't Trade for Lepold