With the season now finished, I’ll be reviewing the individual performances of Chicago Blackhawks players and giving out grades based on their play during the 2013-14 season. In this article I’ll take a look at Nick Leddy.
The year as a whole was disappointing for Leddy. There has been a great deal of hand-wringing about the relatively small amount of progress he has made since his second season in the NHL in 2011-12, and much of it is warranted. In particular, his defensive game is still well below par and hasn’t shown many signs of improvement. This was on display during both the regular season and playoffs, where Joel Quenneville very pointedly sheltered Leddy’s minutes and often benched him outright for defensive miscues.
Still, one must not forget that we are discussing a 23-year-old defenseman. The position is notorious for late bloomers, with Leddy’s teammate Duncan Keith being a prime example. While it is obviously unlikely that Leddy’s career path will ultimately mirror that of the likely two time Norris-winning Keith’s, the general lesson to be gleaned from this is that fans and the organization must continue to be patient.
With that said, this is an evaluation of Leddy’s 2013-14 season, not his future. Many Blackhawks fans are of the opinion that he is the best pure offensive defenseman on Chicago’s roster, and he certainly looked the part at times this year. Leddy’s skating is truly a joy to watch, and his puck skills are easily the best of all Blackhawk defensemen. Patrick Kane is likely the only player on the roster who is better than Leddy at zone entries — a grossly underrated and underappreciated part of the game.
Evidently there are plenty of positives to be taken from Leddy’s game. However, it’s hard to argue that he’s really any different from the Leddy of two years ago, and this lack of progress simply can’t be ignored. A C- seems like the best grade for him in 2013-14.