Nick Leddy: It’s Time For The Blackhawks To Lock Him Up

Fans have varying opinions on the play of young defenseman Nick Leddy, but now is the time for GM Stan Bowman to get together with him and get a deal done that keeps him in Chicago for the next few years.

Leddy, of course, was acquired in the trade that sent Cam Barker to the Minnesota Wild a couple years ago. The following summer, he made enough of an impression on Hawks brass to leave the University of Minnesota after his freshman year and sign an entry-level deal with the NHL club. He was forced into action while Brian Campbell was injured early that year, and returned late in the season as a bottom pair defenseman.

But last year, the first full season in the NHL for Leddy, he showed flashes of why many scouts were so high on him entering the 2009 NHL Draft.

Leddy played in all 82 games for the Hawks last year, and put up 37 points. His 34 assists were tied with Matt Carle and Kevin Shattenkirk for 14th among all NHL defensemen, and he averaged over 22 minutes per game. He added 67 hits and 78 blocked shots while being asked to replace Campbell in the lineup.

He accomplished these numbers, for the most part, before his 21st birthday, which was March 20.

Many fans will point to his minus-12 rating, some of his turnovers and poor positioning and willingly give him the same middle name many Boston Red Sox fans have assigned to Bucky Dent.

But reality is that Leddy is developing into a solid, puck-moving defenseman.

By comparison, Duncan Keith didn’t play an NHL game until he was 22 (granted, the lockout kept him out of the NHL for a year). Yes, those 2005-06 Blackhawks weren’t loaded with all-stars as last year’s roster was, but the style of play from the two in their first NHL seasons isn’t that different.

In his first full NHL season, Keith had 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) and was minus-11. He posted 88 hits, 119 blocked shots and averaged over 23 minutes per game after two full seasons in the AHL and 56 games over parts of two seasons at Michigan State.

It’s also worth remembering that, during Keith’s late-season suspension, Leddy posted five assists in five games.

Keith was afforded patience by Blackhawks fans six years ago because, frankly, there weren’t as many fans and social media hadn’t given fans an outlet to voice their opinions of a player’s performance.

Now, Leddy is developing at arguably a quicker pace and at a younger age. With one season left on his entry-level contract, it’s important that the Blackhawks begin negotiating an extension with him this summer.

The NHL and the Players Association are working on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and early indications are that the league wants to make some dramatic changes to contract lengths, arbitration eligibility, and the timetable for players to become unrestricted free agents.

While we don’t know what the new CBA will look like yet, the league’s approach to negotiations has led some teams to begin locking up their core players long-term before the new paper is written. Leddy certainly isn’t in the same class as a player like Sidney Crosby, but the uncertaintly of a new CBA should lead the Hawks to work on a new deal with Leddy before he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.

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24 Responses to Nick Leddy: It’s Time For The Blackhawks To Lock Him Up

  1. ratboy36 says:

    Much respect for sticking up for Leddy,only problem I have is he avoids contact like the plague which is rumoured to be because of his age and size compared to some monster sized and strength NHL players.Nick Leddy will be AWESOME.A hybrid defensmen with atleast a Norris or two in his future.People are too hard on a kid his age.His plus minus rating etc. Would be a lot worse if he wasn’t good.If he added 20 pounds and some fortitude.LOOK OUT if he keeps his speed.

  2. Dickie Dunn says:

    Good piece. Good idea – sign him.

  3. Logan Reilly says:

    “is he avoids contact like the plague”

    Well, he was compared to Phil Housley before he played an NHL game so there’s that. lol

    Anyways, I laugh at the Jaeckel blogger who just creates stupid rumours that Leddy is being dangled to other teams. No, seriously. He basically created the rumour too. Why? Because his agent is Neil Sheehy and supposedly Chicago brass is so upset for being played on the Suter/Parise sweepstakes who is also with Neil Sheehy.

    Good work. Can’t find a rumour…create one!

    Its Leddy’s first year! And he comes across as a good guy. I say re-sign him too. Then Jaeckel can create some other stupid rumour out of nothing.

    I am betting that when management has their end of season reviews with the players that you know that they suggested he put on muscle mass. Another year older and stronger….he’s a keeper.

  4. Rob says:

    I’d like to see Leddy locked up but I can’t really see a Norris trophy (or 2…) in his future.

  5. Dickie Dunn says:

    I saw that rumor on the other blog, too – “Leddy is being dangled…because his agent is Neil Sheehy and supposedly Chicago brass is so upset for being played on the Suter/Parise sweepstakes who is also with Neil Sheehy.” – I agree it’s laughable. Possible only *if* Bowman/brass were new to professional sports negotiations. I have to believe that Leddy is the next player to be added to “the core”.

  6. Brad Stevenson says:

    Well, before the other bloggers here runaway with nominating Leddy to the Hall of Fame…let’s take a step back and understand that we don’t know everything there is to know about Leddy’s game or his potential (or lack there of)…and that EVERYTHING said here is sheer speculation.

    However, there are some basic “facts” that can be understood and Tab, as usual, has done an excellent job of laying those things out…and as is the case with facts (aptly pointed out by David Byrne and the Talking Heads) they can be manipulated by those who really don’t like the measured outcome and want to “spin” things in another direction.

    In Tab’s case, I don’t think that he is trying to do this to make a “false” case for Leddy…in fact, with a legitimate partner last year (a Brent Seabrook type player for example), Leddy may very well have had a monster year for his style of game…and that’s the key…”style of game”…Nick Leddy plays a Duncan Keith, Phil Housley type game, so pairing him with Duncan Keith, Johhny Oduya, or even the amazing, spectacularly invisible Nick Hjarlmarsson is the EXACT WRONG THING TO DO…pairing him with Brent Seabrook or Sheldon Brookbank is the right idea.

    Had the Hawks done this last year, maybe our team defence would have been a lot better…maybe Seabrook/Leddy and Keith/Hammer would have worked out better overall??? It would have for Nick Leddy, and thus his “numbers” last season reflected playing with the likes of Hammer and Oduya…and Tab himself has made a powerful argument that the Hawks were a better overall team last year with Hammer OUT OF THE LINEUP…

    So, should Bowman lock up Leddy now while his numbers look like they need improvement for reasonable dollars, or should he wait for another full year…again, I think that Tab has the correct response…YES…sign him now…

    If there is ONE lesson that the Hawks Management, Coaches and FANS should learn about the Stanley Cup champion LA Kings is that they won for 3 main reasons…one, they had great goaltending (Crawford has shown that he can play at this level in the post season, albeit 1 out of 2 times), two, they were STRONG UP THE MIDDLE…4 very good centres (not great) that win face-offs and play 2 way hockey, and three, 3 defensive pairings that feature the SAME MIX…one strong, physical, stay at home guy, and one quicker, more skilled, break out guy…

    If the Hawks jettison Hammer this summer and bring in ONE MORE physical, stay at home DMan, then I think they will be ready (albeit praying that Marcus Kruger is a 2nd line centre) to make another run in the playoffs…because this would give us 3 D pairings that feature this mix, which would also help Leddy to focus on what he does well, and elevate his overall game…

    But keep him with Hammer or Oduya, and it could very well mean another up and down year for the youngster, who is talented, but needs HELP!

    Great article Tab!

  7. Dickie Dunn says:

    Brad – good points. But, I personally do not buy into the “emulate-the-previous-year’s-winner” strategy. I’ve suggested previously that the Hawks won in 2010, but the Bruins did not remake their team to mirror/imitate Chicago, yet won in 2011. It seems best to play to your strengths. (Talent dictates style?) There are a lot of factors contributing to the result-winner each year. Obviously, Jonathan Quick is the main reason LA won. They “gelled”, “got hot”, or started playing well – building/running with momentum at the right time. (Maybe/likely Jeff Carter joining had a little to do with this.) Luck. Luck in regard to injuries – only Simon Gagner – was a significant piece.

    LA strong up the middle – no doubt. But, Kopitar/Richards/Stoll/Frasier/Lewis/Brad Richardson (Frasier+Lewis+Richardson = 11 G, 13A) compared to Toews/Kruger (I’m optimistic about potential and growth)/Bolland/Sharp (if necessary) or Mayers or maybe McNeill/Danault/Pirri shows up and is NHL-ready (…like 11G, 13A – not too far fetched?). I completely agree with you about faceoffs — lack of depth in this area may be the most critical problem the Hawks need to address.

    Leddy might not be heading to the Hall of Fame or even a couple of Norris trophies, but he has ++ skill (and upside). I don’t know about the “pairings” – of course it sounds good – skill & physical x 3. Maybe that’s just an “in a perfect world” sort of thing? (“play to your strengths”) As long as the game is played on ice, I prefer players who can skate. Since he’s still with the team, I hope Hjalmarsson can get back to the player he was in 2010. (Back to the Kings’ 3 defensive pairings – Doughty, Mitchell, J.Johnson, Voynov, Greene, Scuderi, and Martinez — I wouldn’t trade the Hawks defensemen for them with a gun to my head…but, that’s just discussion trivia)

    I may be a little guilty of “homerism” (- is that a word?), but I can simulate “objective”, too, on a given night. I’m sticking with there are “a lot of factors contributing to the result-winner each year”, and every season is different.

    We can agree on “Great article Tab!”.

    I didn’t know David Byrne was a hockey fan. (Rangers? Islanders? RISD?)

  8. wall says:

    Agree Brad, except for 2 HUGE points…

    Crow was very good for one playoff series… not one Playoff SEASON… (unless he is great in S. Cup Finals… playing great for one Series doesn’t Matter!)

    Secondly, Kings are special because of SIZE and SKILL and Goalie… Hawks are still missing SIZE and Goalie!!! The Goalie can be taken care of (see 2010) w/ puck possesion and TEAM defense!
    That is why we need Physical D-Man w/ Leddy AND Physical skilled top 6 POWER forward… + kids like Hayes, Bickell, Saad to step up and play “on the edge” to GET the puck and KEEP the puck!

  9. Dickie Dunn says:

    Wall — Los Angeles “SIZE and SKILL”… The Kings are a little bigger – Kopitar 6’3″ 225, Nolan 6’3″ 227, King 6’3 234, Carter 6’4″ 199, Richards 5’11” 199, Stoll 6’1″ 213, Brown 6’0″ 204….Toews 6’2″ 208, Hossa 6’1″ 210, Sharp 6’1″ 199, Stalberg 6’3″ 209, Bickell 6’4″ 233, Bollig 6’2″ 223, Carcillo 6’0″ 203. (Andrew Shaw plays “large” 5’10” 180) Not exactly comparing boys to men, is it? As far as “skill” – Do Nolan and King really have much of an edge on Carcillo, Bickell, and Bollig? (Of course, except for Bickell none of these guys played the full season, so it’s difficult to know. And, Bickell slept thru at least half of the games.)

    On defense, the size difference is greater – Doughty 6’0″ 212, Greene 6’3″ 232, Mitchell 6’3″ 208, Scuderi 6’1″ 219, Martinez 6’1″ 206, Voynov 5’11” 199….Seabrook 6’3 221, Keith 6’1″ 200, Leddy 6’0″191, Hjalmarsson 6’3″ 207, oduya 6’0″ 190, Olsen 6’2″ 214, Brookbank 6’1″ 202, (Montador 6’0″ 210). Do you think the edge in skill level compensates for the difference in size? I believe it does *when the effort is present* – and that includes the forwards playing defense.

    Quick is a better goaltender than Crawford.

  10. Brad Stevenson says:

    Dickie, that’s the great thing about our holographic universe, every thought and idea has merit and infinite possibilities…so keep on trucking with your Blackhawk cool aid, and enjoy the taste…

    Wall, you are right about Crow…it was one series, but what a one series and against one heck of an offensive juggernaut…so he has the potential, that’s all I am saying…

    And LA did have great size to their squad, but it started with 4 centres that were consistent and strong up the middle with face offs and back checking…I still think their key was obviously goaltending, but also 3 balanced D pairings…

  11. Dickie Dunn says:

    Brad, thank you. I prefer Sam Adams or Grolsch (- geeezz, I haven’t tasted cool aid in many years).

    I conceded (agree) Quick is a better goaltender than Crawford.

    “LA did have great size to their squad” – the difference compared to the Hawks *may* be “marginal”? I am ALL FOR “consistent”!! Is this on the coaching staff or the players? Motivation or execution? Also, I am for winning face offs and back checking – I’ve harped more than enough about “the effort” and a “consistent” commitment to team defense. We seem to be on the same page (more or less).

    “holographic universe” — I’m torn between, “pretty impressive” and “Spare me your poisonous barbs!”….help me out, Brad.

  12. wall says:

    Dickie, yes King and Nolan are as skilled or more skilled than Bollig and Carbomb…

    Secondly you seemed to have left off a 245 LB. Dustin Penner… WHOOPS!
    Brown hits harder and more than anyone on Hawks and is as skilled as MOST!

    Lastly, I don’t know where you are getting your weights from… but Yahoo suggests that you are padding the Hawks weights and shaving the King’s weights!!!!

    Do you work for Al Gore?

  13. Dickie Dunn says:

    Wall, I took size information verbatim from kings.nhl.com and blackhawks.nhl.com. You are correct – I missed Penner. It wasn’t intentional.

    I respect Dustin Brown. 82GP 22G 32A 54PT +18 53PM and “World Class” leadership. He would have taken the Conn Smythe if not for the play of Quick.

    The Kings had a great playoff run, but I still don’t believe in the “You-must-emulate-the-previous-year’s-winner” strategy. I’m not sure every team that exited early is rushing into make-over mode to mirror LA. I am sure that there is no guarantee the Kings will repeat or even a team playing a Kings-like style (if possible) will do it.

    Stats (post season in parenthesis) – King 27GP 5G 9A 14PT 10PM (20GP 5G 3A 8PT 13PM), Nolan 26GP 2G 2A 4PT 28PM (20GP 1G 1A 2PT 21PM). I realize this obviously provides no indication of the physical aspect of their play, which is probably where their real value lies. I’m too lazy to search for hits, and the accuracy of those stats is somewhat questionable. I know the Hawks rarely (if ever) outhit anyone.

    Work for Al Gore? No. Why do you ask? (What is Al Gore doing these days? Is he a Kings fan?)

  14. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    I’m okay with the Hawks locking up Leddy, because he is a nice asset for the organization to control. I’m not sold on him at all. If you can sign him to a solid deal for 3/4 years im good with that, although I’ll never be in his fan club. I honestly dont like his game, he’s too small, isnt great in his own end. Isn’t great on the PP and can’t play the PK. So what exactly does he do for you exactly? I don’t see him as a top 4 d-man on a cup winning team.

  15. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    As far as the Kings style, this is nothing new in hockey. The Kings have A+ goaltending, and good team d-fense and size. They are solid down the middle and have 6 above average d-man. They had a remarkable playoff run!

    The Hawks on the other hand have suspect goaltending, are not physical, are not solid down the middle. Kruger is NOT a 2nd line center(sorry). They do not have good team size and below average team defense. I’m sorry but I just dont see this team making it out of the 1st round unless Crow can revert back to his Van playoff stats

  16. Tab Bamford says:

    Unfortunately for Blackhawks fans, no defensemen has ever progressed after his 21st birthday, so…

  17. wall says:

    Dickie, the “Gore” comment was just a little jab at you picking out some truths and conveniently leaving out other facts… like Al Gore and his movie An Inconvenient Truth.

    Bottom line… regardless of Physical size… Hawks don’t hit and aren’t tough on boards…
    therefore they cannot control puck time… and their “puck moving” D-men are EXPOSED!!!! Especially in front of net and on Boards!!!

    So we are still left w/ a D-core of—- 3 puck movers… 1 shot blocker… 1 all around solid MAN (SEABS), Brookbank????? and Monty-DORK!!!

  18. Logan Reilly says:

    I love when all these stats of the LA Kings are thrown out as evidence and yet….no one saw them entering the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup.

    Look! Up in the Sky! Its…Captain Hindsight!

    Able to choose Stanley Cup winners after they’ve won the Stanley Cup!

    Godspeed, Captain Hindsight! Godspeed.

  19. Dickie Dunn says:

    Wall, “No one assails me with impunity.” — I didn’t pull no Al Gore!!
    I missed Penner – not an intentional omission, and I copied the height and weight information exactly from kings.nhl.com and blackhawks.nhl.com. My word is good. I suffer no shortage of integrity (especially discussing the Blackhawks).

    “Hawks don’t hit and aren’t tough on boards…” — play to your strengths (talent dictates style). “therefore they cannot control puck time” – this is debatable. Puck control does not depend entirely on hitting and board play — c’mon, skating, passing, and stickhandling do not figure into “puck control”?

    “we are still left w/ a D-core of—- ” — if the forwards “help out” on defense consistently, the “puck-movers” will move the puck. The “transition game” means more to “puck control” than hitting and and at least as much as “board play”, in my opinion (which last I heard was good for something in “our holographic universe”).

    Tab — “Unfortunately for Blackhawks fans, no defensemen has ever progressed after his 21st birthday, so…” — I hope this isn’t lost on anybody here. (GOOD one.)

  20. William says:

    I feel compelled to inject the following observation: The cliche remark about the hawks ” not being a ‘tough’ team” have become archaic. Carbomb, Seabrook, Jammer, Bollig, J. Hayes, A. Shaw, Brookbank… this isn’t a team of P. Bure wanna be’s, fuck, even Kaner was playing physically in the Phoenix series. There is heart in the core and in some character augments as well. To be concise, it is no longer a truism that does not require defense to say that the hawks aren’t tough or aggressive. Think of it this way, as an opponent, Stalberg, Bickell, Toews, everyone I aforementioned and many more should be causing you to lock your stride and watch your back going into a corner… The Blackhawks are not the broad street bullies, but they are not the 2010-11 team. Pessimism is realism gone bad, don’t be a fool, these hawks are tough!

  21. wall says:

    William, common… Hawks “tough” guys aren’t capable of making a play when they do separate someone from the puck on the boards… the only “Real” tough guy there is Seabs… Carbomb- cheap/dirty, Shaw- scrappy, Mayers- (will do the right thing, but not fast/skilled enough to matter).

    Guys who were tough and can finish a play– see– Ladd, Buff, Brouwer, even Eager could skate!

    Finally, this team has no one that fits this description on TOP SIX- besides Toews- that is why he has a target on his back, and is easy prey. Then you got Hoss and Kane looking over their shoulder’s when a goon like Torres is checking against them!

    A guy like – Doan- is exactly what we need. (and Toews knows it)… A Physical center would even be better… but Who is available???

  22. Will says:

    I remember Danny C making some gorgeous passes to Toews last season. Shaw gets stuff done, there is no denying that. He gets in there and does what he has to do, and scores to prove it. Mayers will throw a few goals in on the season, but thats not what he’s there to do. I miss all the guys from the Cup season too, but just because these guys weren’t all on our team for it doesn’t mean we should throw them under the bus. You gotta work with what you got, and it looks like we got plenty.

  23. William says:

    Fair points, Wall. I miss those you’ve listed from the cup team as well, I remember Q being asked after that summer who he missed the most and his response being “Buff was a heck of a hockey player,” I’d like him back more than anyone else, Ladd and 32 are both losses that irritate me as well, but its history. All that said, I stand by my statement and think you understate what Shaw and Carbomb contribute.

    BTW Doan would be simply great!

  24. ratboy36 says:

    Agree with alot of points EXCEPT Doan,YES we need him but we don’t need to overpay him like One team will end up doing.Ofcourse we like overpaying players so it might just happen.Would like Bernier and Gagner a lot more though.

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