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Sabres agree to 3-year deal with D Jordan Leopold

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Leopold agreed to a three-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres, who wasted little time retooling their dwindling defensive corps on the first day of NHL free agency Thursday.

A seven-year NHL veteran, Leopold is expected to immediately step in and fill a top-four role with the Sabres after they lost veteran defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman to free agency earlier in the day.

Monetary terms of the deal were not immediately available, but it's expected that Leopold will get about $3 million a season.

He had a career-best 11 goals and 15 assists in 81 games last season with Pittsburgh and the Florida Panthers, who traded him to the Penguins in March.

Leopold's agent, Ben Hankinson, said his client was eyeing the Sabres as a possible fit as free agency approached. And the Sabres showed immediate interest shortly after the signing period opened at noon.

"It's just a good fit," Hankinson said. "Jordan was looking to find a team to play for, and to play a busy role."

Tallinder, who ranked second on the Sabres last season in averaging 20 minutes, 36 seconds in ice time, signed with New Jersey. Tallinder had a particularly important role in Buffalo in playing alongside and helping tutor Tyler Myers, the NHL's rookie of the year last season.

Lydman, who ranked fifth on the Sabres with an average of 18 minutes, 51 seconds of ice time, reached a deal with Anaheim.

Selected in the second round of the 1999 draft, Leopold broke into the NHL with the Calgary Flames in 2002-03. He also spent three seasons with Colorado.