Blue Jackets deal Leopold, Wisniewski, sign Atkinson

Published 4:23 am Tuesday, March 3, 2015

COLUMBUS (AP) — A slow NHL trade-deadline day for the Columbus Blue Jackets gained some major momentum near the end.

The club dealt top defenseman James Wisniewski and a third-round pick in 2015 to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday for left wing Rene Bourque, center William Karlsson and a second-round pick this summer.

Earlier, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen dealt seldom-used defenseman Jordan Leopold for a younger blue-liner and a draft pick and also signed forward Cam Atkinson to a three-year deal.

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Wisniewski, who just turned 31, is an offensive-minded blue-liner with 8 goals and 21 assists this season. Over his NHL career with Chicago, Anaheim, the New York Islanders, Montreal and Columbus, he has 53 goals and 216 assists in 538 games.

Bourque, a 33-year-old, had been placed on waivers by the Ducks. He was acquired from Montreal in November.

The 22-year-old Karlsson played 18 games with the Ducks in his rookie season this year, totaling two goals and an assist. He was Anaheim’s second-round pick in 2011, the 53rd pick overall.

Wisniewski had fallen into disfavor recently with the Blue Jackets. He was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career last week.

The Blue Jackets locked up Atkinson, one of their most energetic forwards.

Atkinson’s agent, George Bazos at Edge Sports Management, confirmed Monday his client had signed a new contract worth $2.5 million next year, $3.5 million in 2016-17 and $4.5 million in 2017-18.

Atkinson, 25, has 13 goals and 12 assists in 58 games this season, including three power-play and five game-winning goals.

In 199 NHL games, all with Columbus, he has 50 goals and 47 assists.

Earlier in the day, the Blue Jackets united a family by sending Leopold home.

Leopold went to his home state Minnesota Wild for defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft.

The 34-year-old Leopold, an unrestricted free agent this summer, has been separated from his family since he was acquired on Nov. 15 from the St. Louis Blues for a fifth-round pick in 2016.

His 10-year-old daughter Jordyn sent a plaintive letter to the Wild’s coaches asking that they help swing a deal to bring her father home.

Leopold has played 13 years in the NHL for Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, St. Louis and Columbus.

Falk, 26, who requested a trade, is a restricted free agent this summer. He was scoreless in 13 games with the Wild this season and has a goal and 16 assists in 142 NHL games. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft by Minnesota.