Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester is perhaps the most coveted defenseman leading up to Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, but the compensation for a player who is also under contract for $6.6 million next season is believed to be steep.
Meanwhile, the market for defensemen who are unrestricted free agents this summer is thin — especially those on non-playoff teams.

So the Blues on Saturday made a minor trade to upgrade the left side of their defense, acquiring Jordan Leopold, 32, from Buffalo in exchange for a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft. If the Blues win one playoff round this season, the fifth-round pick becomes a fourth-round pick.

The Minnesota native is expected to make his Blues’ debut when the club plays at Minnesota on Monday at Xcel Energy Center.

A 10-year NHL veteran, Leopold has two goals and eight points and a minus-6 rating in 24 games this season. He is in the final year of a three-year, $9 million contract and will be an unrestricted free-agent this summer.

“You look at Jordan, he’s a 20-plus minute player with experience,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “To us, when you look at the guys from non-playoff teams that are going to be unrestricted, there’s not a lot more guys with experience or the value that Jordan would have.”

Leopold was averaging 21:08 of ice time per game in Buffalo, which would rank third overall on the Blues. He was playing 2:11 per game on the power play and 2:15 on the penalty kill with the Sabres — averages that also would list third on his new team.

Leopold recently missed 10 games with an upper-body injury, but has played the last eight scoring a goal, three assists and a plus-1 rating.

“I think his biggest area of strength is his ability to touch all the areas of the game,” Armstrong said. “He’s not singularly dimensional, he’s just a good pro. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t bring you out of your seats, but we’re not looking for that. We’re just looking for consistent ice time and a guy that can help push the game along, and I think those are his strengths.”

Armstrong said Leopold would be paired with either Alex Pietrangelo or Kevin Shattenkirk.

“Recently I really like the pair of (Kris) Russell and Roman (Polak), and I think the coaches like that also,” Armstrong said. “So I think Jordan is going to get an opportunity to play with one of those other two guys off the start. It gives us a little bit of flexibility and we’ll find out where the proper chemistry is.”

Leopold’s arrival gives the Blues eight defensemen on the roster, and Armstrong has no plans to trim down the remainder of the season.

“Our goal, first and foremost, is we have to get into the playoffs,” Armstrong said. “We’ve put ourselves in a position now where we’re going to have to work hard to maintain our position and improve it. But when you get in there, and you want to potentially make a long playoff run, you have to have eight or nine quality defensemen.”

Saturday’s trade might seem to take the Blues out of the running for any more help on the blueline, but Armstrong said, “I think you’re always looking. The phones aren’t going to stop ringing until Wednesday at 2 o’clock central time. So we’re always going to be listening, but we feel a lot stronger as of 3 o’clock (Saturday) than at 3 o’clock (Friday).”

Leopold has 65 goals and 202 points in 610 career games for Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The Blues aren’t committed to re-signing Leopold after the season, but Armstrong said both sides will have a chance to evaluate the situation.

“I think the beauty of it, we’re going to get a good look at him, and he’s going to get a good look at us and see if there’s a fit,” Armstrong said. “We’re hoping that he comes in and plays real well, finds chemistry. He’s a 1980 birth date, so he’s certainly got some miles left on the tires. So if it’s a good fit, it’s something that we can certainly look at it.”