Summer Reading - SCH's Season Review: The Great White Hope...With Mouth Agape
A lot of Leddy's season review will sound a lot like Steve Montador's. Because most of the problems Leddy face were foisted upon him by the way he was handled. What the expectations should have been for a 20-year old d-man with barely 60 games above college hockey and what was asked of Nick Leddy are two wildly divergent things. And that's not Leddy's fault. It's an old refrain: the Hawks only had one window to unload Brian Campbell's contract, and they expected Chris Campoli to take their somewhat underwhelming offer. Because he didn't, the Hawks kind of had to force-feed Leddy his NHL diet. And at times, he spit it all back up.
Nick Leddy's Stat Line: 82G 3G 34A 37P -12 10PIM -.86 Behind The Net, .021 Quality of Competition
The Good: It's hard to get too upset about 37 points from a blue liner at the age of 20 in his first full year. That number will probably only go up, and then you're talking about a point range that a small percentage of the league's d-men get to. So that's kind of exciting. After Oduya's arrival, Leddy's +/- was +3, so his game really did level out when he had a partner who could babysit for him. When he did get a chance to run a power play unit, which wasn't as often as he should, he was the only one who could break the trenches teams dug at their blue line with his feet. His decisions with the man-advantage were usually pretty solid, and he gets his shot through when he actually attempts to. The last couple games against Phoenix, Leddy really ramped up his aggressiveness and attacking side, which is the player he has to be. He's got wheels, he's got hands, it's just he rarely comes with the confidence to use them. But that will come, and when it does the Hawks just might have the special player they think he's going to be.
The Bad: Again, most of these are simple growing pains from a kid thrown into the deep end. Leddy struggled in the physical department. He simply got manhandled by big forwards. That's going to continue until he gets in the gym and matures, as well as learns how to keep himself out of trouble as other shifty d-men do. He would get tentative in the corners and cough up pucks too easily (Game 4 comes to mind). He would fail to use a better-than-he-thinks shot. Simply helpless on the kill, but he never should have been on it anyway. It's not really his fault that at 20 he isn't strong enough to clear the crease (and he'll never really be that player, nor does he have to be) or have the sense on how to block shots. When his defensive game would go, Leddy would lose his aggressiveness with the puck. And that can't happen, because that's where his strength is. Needs to heed Crash Davis's advice, always be cocky, even when you're getting shelled.
Contract: One year left on entry deal at 1.1M hit
Stick Around Or Hit The Bricks: Obviously, Stan is never going to ship out his first acquisition and pet project. However, if by some act of God and Ryan Suter does end up here, Leddy then is very expendable because Suter would be eating up his role. But I'm not expecting that to happen. So once again, the project has to be to find a consistent partner for Leddy that can cover for him and provide the platform for an offensive game that really could be something. There aren't a huge list of names. Leddy himself has to get stronger, which I'm sure he will. He's also entering a pivotal year personally, because 21-year old d-men who can put up 45-50 points will probably cash in very heavily the following summer. While I've complained a lot about Leddy, it's mostly been about what he's been asked to do. I still see a player here that could be a serious weapon, if the Hawks weren't just so intent on breaking it.