Blackhawks’ defenseman Nick Leddy has taken a lot of heat from fans over the last two years. Some of it is deserved but a lot of isn’t, in my opinion. Leddy has played 128 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons. He only played 22 games for the Rockford IceHogs, so for the most part he has had to learn the pro game at the highest level in one of the game’s largest markets. I think Leddy has done a pretty good job learning the NHL on the fly. Let’s not forget that he is only 21 years old and should be prepping for his senior season the University of Minnesota.
Leddy has great vision and is a tremendous passer. Coach Q needs to use him more on the power play this coming season. His skating and play making abilities need to be maximized with the man advantage. Yes, he defensive play needs a lot of improvement. He still needs to add some size because he is not going win too many board battles at this point. His speed allows him to make up ground when he is caught out of position. He still makes some bad decisions but those are signs of a young player with not a lot of experience. Leddy struggled a lot when he was paired up with Niklas Hjalmarsson. For whatever reason, those two just did not work very well together. Leddy played much better when he got to spend some time next to Brent Seabrook. He found a nice place once he was matched up with newcomer Johnny Oduya as well. I would look for the duo of Leddy and Oduya to start the season off as the 2nd pair.
Nick Leddy has played 128 games in the NHL where he has scored 7 goals, has 44 assists and is a -15. One of the best aspects of Leddy’s game is that he does not take bad penalties. He has only 14 PIM so far in his career. If you look at some of the numbers of other high caliber defensemen after 128 games, you will see Leddy is going to be just fine.
Duncan Keith struggled quite a bit his first two seasons in the NHL and he didn’t get the call up until he was 22. At the 128 game mark Keith had 9 goals, 30 assists and was a -7. He also had accumulated 125 PIMs during that span. People don’t remember that Keith was not very good in his first two seasons. A major reason for that is that there were not nearly has many people paying attention to the Blackhawks in 2005 and 2006.
All Star defenseman, and former teammate of Leddy’s, Brian Campbell’s numbers after 128 games were not spectacular either. Soupy only had 6 goals, 24 assists and was a -16 after 128 games. Campbell turned out to be one of the better offensive defensmen in the game. In fact, the Blackhawks traded Campbell away because they believe that Leddy will develop into the type of player Campbell is.
The Washington Capitals’ Mike Green is another defenseman in the same mold of Nick Leddy. In his first 128 games Green only scored 6 goals, had 16 assists, was a -26 and took 78 minutes worth of penalties.
So if you compare the numbers Leddy has put up to some of the better offensive defensemen in the league, you will see that he has been pretty good. Yes he still has some improvements to make but I am confident those will come with more ice time. I am excited to see what he can do this coming up season. He could be in for a breakout season if he is used correctly on the ice. Leddy needs to be quartbacking the power play where his strengths can be fully optimized. Leddy will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. Hopefully the Blackhawks can get an extension done during the season because someone will give him an offer sheet next offseason. Get him signed under your terms and don’t let another general manager dictate what you will have to pay him.
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