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Blackhawks Mon Oct 06 2014

What the Nick Leddy Trade Means for the Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It only was a matter of time -- at least by Tuesday, October 7, to be exact -- when GM Stan Bowman was going to pull the trigger on trading away a member of the Hawks so that he could trim $2.2 million against the payroll. That victim was Nick Leddy this weekend, to the New York Islanders, for a handful of players in return.

Regardless of how you felt about Leddy and his contributions to the team, in the salary-cap age in the NHL, players come and go, and sometimes the deals may or may not make sense. It's true Leddy was in coach Joel Quenneville's dog house for much of last season, and he did have the Western Conference-clinching puck go off of his backside from an Alec Martinez shot, but that doesn't mean Leddy's worth was anything less than recently acquired threat to humanity Dan Carcillo. Again, sometimes things may or may not make sense.

But here we are, the dawn of the 2014-'15 puck drop, a season which the Hawks will look to make another deep run into June, and Bowman and company have secured what they feel will be the roster leading the way. During the offseason, rumors swirled of Patrick Sharp exiting town, Johnny Oduya leaving or even Brent Seabrook being traded away to loosen the money belt which strangled the Hawks. Instead, all three remain while the 23-year-old Leddy will skate with a somewhat-improved Islanders team. (The Hawks also included minor-league goalie Kent Simpson in the deal.)

Trading away Leddy's remaining contract -- two years, $5.4 million -- got the Hawks a mere $877,372 under the $69 million team cap for this season. What the Hawks received in return was defensemen T.J. Brennan, Ville Pokka and the rights to RFA goalie Anders Nilsson. Brennan and Pokka will report to Rockford with Nilsson heading overseas.

Last season, Nilsson played 19 games with the Islanders, going 8-7 with a 3.11 goals against average. Brennan was drafted 31st by the Sabres in 2007, and posted 72 points (25 goals, 47 assists) last season with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. Meanwhile, Pokka played in 54 games for Karpat Oulu - Finland last season, earning 27 points (six goals, 21 assists).

Leddy, who was drafted by the Wild 16th overall back in 2009, came to the Hawks via a trade for Cam Barker back in 2010. His points per 60 minutes amongst defensemen in the league ranked him 24th at 1.01, with at least a minimum of 500 minutes played last season.

Leddy's iCORSI/60 ranked him 75th amongst defensemen with a 9.223 and his iFenwick/60 at 70th with a 6.202 -- again, with at least 500 minutes played last season. Comparatively, Duncan Keith (16th, 11.913), Brent Seabrook (62nd, 9.563) and recently exited Sheldon Brookbank (69th, 9.357) ranked ahead of Leddy on the team last year in iCORSI/60 (Erik Karlson of the Senators led the league with a 15.256). Only Keith and Seabrook ranked ahead of Leddy on the Hawks in iFenwick/60 last season, 17th (7.970) and 44th (6.716) respectively. (Karlson also led the league in iFenwick/60, posting a 10.220 -- Yikes!)

[iFenwick/60 (Individual Fenwick) measures shots on goal plus shots that were directed at the net that happened to miss, per 60 minutes of ice time. iCORSI/60 (Individual CORSI) measures the iFenwick stat plus shots directed at the net that happened to be blocked.]

Leddy also was low in earning penalty minutes for the Hawks last season, generating 10 in total. In the process, he was 9th on the team in total shots taken during the regular season last year with 123.

So what does all of this mean? Leddy was pretty skilled at handling the puck in terms of possession, which is key against other skilled teams in the league. Leddy was key as a defenseman for the Hawks in getting his teammates the puck towards their opponent's zone and on net. In other words, he was a decent two-way player.

So needless to say, losing Nick Leddy could hurt a little this season, despite a few lapses in judgment on puck awareness on the ice. The current defensive roster for the Hawks lists most of the usual suspects in Keith, Seabrook, Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival. Hanging around are Trevor Van Riemsdyk, David Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey, with a few others in Rockford who might rotate in and out throughout the season, including Klas Dahlbeck, Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns.

The season for the Hawks opens this coming Thursday in Dallas in a year where most are picking Chicago to hoist Lord Stanley when all is said and done. The fans are hoping for a chance to celebrate once again in Grant Park with most of the core still in place; the brass is hoping it's the tangential moves that get them there. Whether or not trading away Leddy and obtaining Carcillo adds to the scheme remains to be seen throughout the next six to eight months.

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