Drafting and development has been a key to the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks, yet the franchise has also found immense success through trades, especially regarding young talent. One such example is the trade that occurred Feb. 12, 2010, when the Blackhawks traded Cam Barker to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Kim Johnsson and the draft rights to Nick Leddy.
Nearly four years later, neither Barker nor Johnsson are in the NHL, while Leddy’s development as an offensive defenseman continues at an impressive rate. Per Rotoworld, the Hawks’ defenseman has three goals and 13 points in 29 games this season, putting Leddy on pace for an over 35 points season.
Leddy’s ability to lead a rush from the defensive position is exceptional, and he has become a valuable part of the Blackhawks’ power play, which now ranks third in the NHL. But while the offensive production is exceptional, Leddy’s defensive game has improved dramatically over the last two seasons.
Last season with the Blackhawks marked the first time in Leddy’s professional career that he had a +/- rating over +1, and the first time he had a positive +/- while playing in the United States. This coincides with the eye test that Leddy’s positioning has improved dramatically over the past two seasons. That is despite the fact that Leddy has not had a consistent defensive partner the past two seasons, as the Blackhawks have rotated Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank and now Michael Kostka into the fray. All three play distinctly different styles, and yet, Leddy has continued to improve dramatically as the team’s fifth defenseman.
Contractually, the Blackhawks have plenty of depth in the AHL, and Brookbank and Kostka both have contracts which expire after this season. Leddy and Rozsival, however, will remain with the team until the end of the 2014-15 season.
From there, Leddy becomes the fourth most important Blackhawk who will need a new contract, behind Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. For Leddy and Saad though, their decision likely depends on what they think is best for their career. Both players are incredibly talented young players who will garner a lot of money from somebody, but have to make the decision on whether to chase stardom elsewhere, or many Stanley Cups in Chicago.
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