News came down yesterday that Nick Leddy, the top-pairing defenseman who alongside Johnny Boychuk has helped finally solidify the position for the New York Islanders, had signed a 7-year extension worth $38.5 million ($5.5 million AAV). Islanders fans rejoiced, and with good reason, in knowing that one of their two huge defensive signings would be joining them in Brooklyn for a number of years.
Leddy's deal is worth $38.5 million, $5.5 AAV. #Isles
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) February 24, 2015
While Boychuk seems to get most of the credit for helping turn the Islanders defense into one worthy of contender status, it’s important to realize that Nick Leddy has actually been the team’s best possession defenseman. At 57.8% Corsi-for, Leddy is not just the Islanders possession leader but is fourth among all NHL defensemen with at least 25 games under their belt this season in the same category. Leddy’s skill and influence make an impact on his teammates, with a 5.5% relative Corsi-for, tops for Islanders defensemen. No player on this Islanders blue line has had as much of an impact at even strength as Nick Leddy.
It’s shocking to this day that the Chicago Blackhawks decided that of all the players they could have moved to create cap room, Nick Leddy was the guy who was chosen. Of the five defensemen who regularly suited up for the Blackhawks last season (not including Roszival or Brookbank who split time), Leddy posted a staggering Corsi-for percentage of 56.9%, which was also the best on the team. Yes, better than Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. While Seabrook and Keith were regularly playing tougher competition than Leddy, it’s hard to deny the impact of a player who is regularly driving possession every time he’s on the ice, usually with lesser forwards than what Seabrook and Keith had. Chicago might not have seen that importance, but I’m sure they’re kicking themselves for it now.
His offensive prowess, not that he even needs to show it off on this team, also needs to be recognized. Though Boychuk is the leading scorer among Islanders defensemen, Leddy at 8 goals and 25 points already has scored more than any Islanders defenseman last season. That’s right: in 62 games Leddy has topped every defenseman’s offensive production from the 2013-2014 team.
What more needs to be said? Leddy’s salary is a lot but in the current NHL is par for the course, especially when you go back to the list of top possession defensemen in the league and realize the guy right in front of him (Duncan Keith) makes $7.6 mil AAV on his contract, and is widely regarded as one of the top players in the league. Drew Doughty makes $7 mil per year, and realistically you can go down the list of less effective possession defensemen in the NHL who make more money than Nick Leddy now will. And the best part? He’s here until he’s 30.
All advanced stats courtesy puckalytics.com