One of the priorities for the St. Louis Blues before the deadline was to find a defenseman with a left-handed shot that could play alongside Alex Pietrangelo. General manager Doug Armstrong acquired a player who could fill this role over the weekend by completing a deal for Buffalo Sabres veteran Jordan Leopold (via TSN).
The Blues sent a second- and fifth-round pick in this year's draft to Buffalo for Leopold, who is a UFA at the end of the season.
On Monday, Armstrong acquired the best defenseman rumored to be available in Calgary Flames star Jay Bouwmeester. St. Louis gave up prospects Reto Berra and Mark Cundari, along with a conditional first-round pick in the upcoming NHL draft in exchange for the 29-year-old defenseman. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported the conditions of the draft pick going to Calgary.
Bouwmeester adds more offensive skill (six goals and nine assists in 33 games) and size (6'4", 212 pounds) to St. Louis' blue line, and he will also give head coach Ken Hitchcock a reliable defensive player who can log 20-plus minutes every night against the opposing teams' best goal scorers.
Per Capgeek, Bouwmeester has a $6.6 million salary and a $6.68 million cap hit. His contract doesn't expire until after the 2013-14 season. Since the Blues are usually a low-budget club and have just one player with a cap hit above $5 million (Bouwmeester), it will be interesting to see how this trade impacts the Blues' ability to re-sign key free agents such as Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart over the summer.
As for the Flames, this trade is going to help their rebuild by adding prospects to their organization and giving them more picks for the 2013 draft.
Cundari is a 22-year-old defenseman who tallied 25 points in 56 games for the AHL's Peoria Rivermen this year. If he reaches his full potential, Cundari will be a good third-pairing defenseman at the NHL level.
Berra is a 26-year-old goaltender playing in Switzerland, and he is one of the top goalie prospects outside of North America.
The key part of this trade for the Flames is the first-round pick, and if the Blues reach the postseason, Calgary will have three top-30 selections in the 2013 draft.