Let’s just get this out of the way quickly: I was wrong about Nick Leddy. Wrong in the sense that Leddy is a building block for this team, and not whatever I said about him. Which was essentially that he was soft and a nice trade chip for the Chicago Blackhawks this summer.
The NHL lockout did Leddy some good, though. It gave him time to beef up a bit, get a little stronger, and work on his play in his own zone with the Rockford Icehogs. The result of that time is extremely evident on the ice.
Leddy has always been supremely talented offensively from the blue line. In his own zone this year, though, has been fun to watch. He’s not dishing out punishment, but he is holding his own on defense. He’s not getting thrown off the puck in the way that he was in last year’s postseason.
Offensively, we know what Leddy can do, and he’s continued to impress. He’s not putting up points at a rate like last year (seven in 19 games), but there are few things more beautiful to watch on this planet than Nick Leddy leading an offensive rush. He’s so quick and smooth, it’s fantastic.
So why the change, or improvement, in Leddy’s game? Aside from the time to work in Rockford, there’s less pressure on Leddy. As a teenager, he was expected to replace Brian Campbell as a No. 3 d-man, and was thrown into a ton of minutes.
Not the case this year. The coaching staff has cut down on his minutes and put him on the ice against bottom six lines, rather than top tier forwards. Which has helped him to gain confidence. The only drawback is having to play next to Sheldon Brookbank on a D pairing.
At this point, Leddy looks like a mainstay for this team. As a restricted free agent, it’s almost a certainty that the Hawks will bring him back. Which would be the right move for a kid starting to look like a part of the “core” of the team.