After taking a brief intermission for the holidays, I am back with the eighth best player in 2011. Jordan Leopold is one of those Sabres who doesn’t make a big splash, yet is consistent in his play. Jordan Leopold had a very stable 2011 and came off a few career bests in the 2010-11 season, netting 13 goals and 35 pts.
Positives: Leo was able to tally double-digit goals last season because he can get the puck on net. Leopold doesn’t have a powerful shot, but rather a quick release and is rather accurate. Besides his offensive talents, Jordan Leopold is a smart defenseman who never seems to be out of position. He never seems to make glaring mistakes at a time where the Buffalo defense corps produces more turnovers than a bakery. One compliment that I can pay to #3 is that you don’t notice him out there. Rarely do I find myself angry at a stupid decision or bad penalty that Leopold takes.
Negatives: As has been a recent trend the Sabres are trying to shake, Jordan Leopold isn’t overly physical and can be manhandled by larger power forwards. Forwards don’t think twice about going into the corner with Leopold. Leo can’t budge people in front of the net and a lot of shots get past Ryan Miller that he doesn’t see. Leo also needs to keep his head on a swivel more on the back check. When he does get caught out of position, a rushing forward often slips by and it able to get a whack at the puck or an easy tap-in goal. Often on the PK, an opposing player can slip behind Leopold for a quick pass in front.
2012 Outlook: Jordan Leopold had a better 2011 than most expected. He sneaks under the radar and remains productive. At only 31, he’s not the oldest of players, but future output may decrease and he gives way to a new age of Buffalo defensemen. Prospects TJ Brennan, Mark Pysyk and even Brayden McNabb, if you can still consider him a prospect and not a full-time NHLer, will assume starting roles as veterans like Leopold and Robyn Regher fade away. Leopold should still be relevant on the Blue and Gold for the next few years and should serve in a mentoring role in the future. Leopold also can show the young guys to not take themselves too seriously… I mean look at the guy.
I eat, sleep and breathe Sabres hockey. I have been into the sport literally my whole life. I started going to games when I was 9 months old and have been hooked ever since. Growing up, I played against guys like Ryan Callahan, Patrick Kaleta, Tim Kennedy and now I have to pay money to watch them in person... Funny how things change.
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