Get me my plate of crow, I'm ready to devour it. I'm acknowledging that it's finally time for me to get on board with the Nick Leddy Experience. This has less to do with the fact that he scored that game-winning goal on Sunday and more with the fact that Leddy is simply becoming a damn good NHL defenseman.
Not that I didn't think Leddy was good. I just thought he was overvalued, both by the organization and by the fans. That opinion was based off of his lackluster play in his own zone and the fact that he was tossed around like a rag doll against Phoenix in last year's postseason.
Boy, was I wrong.
Early on this year, we've seen a different Nick Leddy. The offensive touch is there, obviously, and it is a thing of beauty to watch. His ability carry the puck, make smart passes, and start the rush on offense is already elite. Not "is going to be". Already is.
Where Leddy has shown the most improvement is in his own zone. It's pretty clear that the time in Rockford benefited Leddy in one way or another, even if he wasn't going head-to-head with top notch competition.
Leddy used the summer and that time with the Icehogs to get stronger. Seriously, the kid got stacked in the offseason, and it shows on the ice. That strength has led to a bit more physical play from Leddy, which is awesome to see.
The way Leddy has played has made a transition from that of a rookie to a true veteran. He looks much more comfortable back there and isn't getting muscled off the puck like he has been. Of course, less pressure stemming from less minutes has helped. Anyone who can make Sheldon Brookbank look like a serviceable d-man gets high marks in my book.
With how well Leddy has played, it will be even more interesting to see what type of contract he gets this summer. If he keeps it up and continues to improve, it's going to be a no-brainer to lock him up. But what will it cost? Whatever it is, it will probably be worth it.