Advanced stats, first-hand testimony sheds light on Jordan Leopold

It's unknown if General Manager Ray Shero will be able to pull off any more moves before the trading deadline.  But he said grabbing a defenseman was the priority, and shortly after the Olympic trade freeze ended, he checked that off his list; acquiring an impending free agent in Jordan Leopold.

Leopold, while not flashy, has been a solid contributor on some good teams.  This season he's been playing the most minutes of any Florida Panthers defensemen at even-strength (18:18) and short-handed (3:01).  Let's look behind the jump at some other advanced statistical metrics and also get a first-hand testimonial from Donny Rivette, the editor of the excellent Litter Box Cats blog.

[Jordan Leopold is] very underrated considering his strengths; slick skater, sharp on the outlet pass. A bit difficult to nail down what he does best, in that all of his skills are top-four good without being remotely flashy; you don't notice the job he's done until you see him exit the ice. Will jump into the offensive zone regularly without being reckless. Plus/minus should rebound on a strong Pens squad. Panthers will miss his quiet contributions through remainder of the season if not adequately replaced (and chances are he won't be). He's that solid, slightly above average defenseman who tends to get lost in his position's middleground between high-scoring minute-munchers and those who cling to the third pairing.

That sets a good picture of Leopold.  And even though the Penguins figured to need either a physical or more defensive minded defenseman than Leopold, there's evidence that he's had a pretty good season, even if it has been under-the-radar.

Leopold_stats_medium 

If you're new to new stats, don't freak.  The "QCOMP" is a measure of the quality of competition a player faces, the higher the number the harder the opponents.  When a player dips into negative, he's playing against weaker producers.  It makes sense, Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar (a usual pair against the opponent's top line) are the Pens leaders in QCOMP, and Martin Skoula is on the bottom.  Goals For while a player is on the ice and Goals Against while on the ice can show who's playing well (though the high minute guys can dilute this).

So Jordan Leopold was playing a lot of minutes and consistently against tougher opponents than any Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman has this season.  And his Goals Against is better than many of his new teammates, despite them playing lesser (and easier) minutes.  Dan Bylsma cited Leopold matching other team's top guns like Alex Ovechkin today in his comments.

The proof will be when we see what Leopold has in a Penguins uniform.  But from Donny and the advanced stats, he may have a bit of a pleasant surprise.

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