One of the biggest surprises for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010-2011 season has been young defenseman Nick Leddy, but after a stretch of poor decisions and streaky play Leddy saw his ice time decrease steadily.
Coming into Wednesday nights game against the St. Louis Blues Leddy had only cracked 10 minutes of ice time twice over the last six games, recording one assist and an even plus-minus rating. Now Leddy hadn’t played terrible during the stretch but it seemed as though the young defenseman was beginning to wear down as they entered the final stretch of his first NHL season.
However against the Blues Leddy looked reinvigorated, scoring a goal, an assist and playing extremely well in his defensive zone. I would say that the game against the Blues was Leddy’s best as a Blackhawk by far and that the ‘Hawks do have another defenseman that they can rely on with important minutes come playoff time
Leddy also got a chance to play with the ‘Hawks top defenseman Duncan Keith and the two worked well together and was likely a major contributer to the youngsters success against the Blues. Being paired with Keith might allow Leddy to play his game without having to worry as much about his defense partner.
Going forward I would like to see coach Quenneville go with the paring of Leddy and Keith in the final stretch and possibly into the playoffs. Playing key minutes in key games can only help Leddy in the future and allow him to develop into the top four defenseman Blackhawks management believes he can become.
Likely a year or two away from becoming that top four defenseman, Leddy is showing steady progress and is proving that he can handle adversity when hit is thrown his way, a good sign for the future. He is not a top defenseman quite yet but if Leddy can give the Blackhawks quality games like he had against the Blues, ‘Hawks management and fans have to be excited for what he can do down the playoff stretch and for seasons to come.