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Penguins add bulk to defense with Panthers' Leopold

by John McGourty
It didn't take long for teams to start dealing after the Olympic trade embargo was lifted.

The Florida Panthers have dealt defenseman Jordan Leopold to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2010 second-round draft pick.

Leopold, 29, had 7 goals, 11 assists and a minus-7 rating in 61 games this season. He was second on the team in average ice time per game at 22:25, and led the team with an average of 3:01 penalty-killing time per game.

A 1999 second-round pick (No. 44) of the Anaheim Ducks, Leopold has played for the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Panthers. He has 36 goals and 91 assists in 416 NHL games over seven seasons.

A native of Golden Valley, Minn., Leopold starred for Armstrong High School before joining the United States National Team Development Program. After one season there, he played four years at the University of Minnesota. He was the Golden Gophers' third-leading scorer, with 20 goals and 48 points, in 2001-02 when they won the NCAA championship. He capped that season by winning the Hobey Baker Award as the collegiate player of the year.

Leopold's best NHL season was 2003-04, when he had 9 goals and 33 points while playing all 82 regular-season games, and 10 assists in 26 playoff games as he helped the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final.

The move adds bulk to a Penguins blue line long on finesse players -- Sergei Gonchar, Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski -- but short on physical players. Leopold's 59 hits would rank him third among Pittsburgh blueliners, behind Brooks Orpik and Letang.

NHL teams weren't allowed to make deals during the 2010 Winter Olympics, but the ban on trades was lifted at midnight Monday.
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