The Phoenix Coyotes recently made news with their signing of Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a new six-year contract. It’s worth $33 million over the course of the deal and locks up one of the league’s top young defenseman, who has the potential to become a superstar.
For fans of the Chicago Blackhawks, the natural question becomes, what does this new deal for Ekman-Larsson mean for the Hawks’ own young defenseman, Nick Leddy? After all, Leddy is among those young defenseman around the league that possess upside that could make him a perennial All Star.
It’s tough to say whether or not the new deal for OEL will actually have an effect on a new deal for Leddy, who is a restricted free agent this summer. Ekman-Larsson is seen as a future elite two-way defenseman, who has already worked his way into the Norris Trophy discussion this season.
Leddy’s potential is mainly in the offensive end. He’s an elite puck mover, while only serviceable in his own end. Which is probably good for the Blackhawks. They won’t have to pay him as much as the Coyotes had to pay OEL, due to the fact that he isn’t quite the “total package”.
It’s pretty clear that Nick Leddy is going to be back in Chicago for years to come. He’s been terrific this season, for a variety of reasons. The Hawks have limited his minutes and set him up against bottom six lines, rather than expecting him to provide top notch defense against elite forwards. He’s been terrific and has showcased that elite offensive skill throughout this year.
In the next couple of months, we are going to hear plenty about this new deal for Nick Leddy, assume he’s able to work one out with the Hawks. This Ekman-Larsson deal could have laid something of a foundation for a Leddy deal, perhaps as far as the length goes. Six years wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the Blackhawks. It’s just a matter of finding the right amount of money to go along with it.
Of course, the Hawks could also opt to go the Michael Del Zotto or P.K. Subban deal and sign Leddy to a shorter contract, like the two year deal that each of them have received.
Regardless of which direction the Hawks’ front office ends up going, since we really don’t know, one would have to imagine that this new deal for Oliver Ekman-Larsson will have at least some sort of effect on negotiations with Nick Leddy. While Leddy may not project as the all-around defenseman that OEL will likely become, both are top young d-men in the NHL. That’s worth a lot of money.