Detroit — The moves are beginning to happen.
The Red Wings acquired defenseman Nick Leddy from the New York Islanders on Friday in exchange for forward Richard Panik and a second-round draft choice (originally Edmonton’s), the 52nd overall, in next week’s NHL Entry Draft.
Leddy, 30, has one year left on his contract at a $5.5 million cap hit.
In 56 games this season, Leddy had two goals and 29 assists for 31 points, with a minus-3 rating. Leddy played in 19 playoff games, with six assists.
In 776 career games, Leddy has 65 goals and 271 assists.
Leddy (6-foot, 205-pounds) is an elite skater with mobility and acceleration. He is a fine passer and playmaker off the rush. His strength is, and always has been, on the offensive end or playing with the puck.
It’s on the defensive end where Leddy has struggled, in one season with the Islanders posting a minus-42 rating.
Still, with his mobility and experience, Leddy could be an adequate partner for rooikie Moritz Seider, whose defensive, physical style could mesh with Leddy.
In Leddy, the Wings will have also have an attractive chip at the trade deadline if the Wings are sellers again, given he’s in the final year of his contract.
With Leddy aboard, the Wings may choose to not re-sign a veteran defenseman such as Marc Staal, who can be an unrestricted free agent, or pursue someone such as Jon Merrill, who the Wings traded at the deadline last season to Montreal and were expected to circle back to later this month.
Leddy’s acquisition also complicates the protected expansion list to be submitted Saturday, ahead of Wednesday’s expansion draft stocking the Seattle Kraken.
The Wings are likely to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.
On defense, they’ll protect Filip Hronek and likely Leddy. That leaves one spot available between Troy Stecher, Danny DeKeyser, Dennis Cholowski and Gustav Lindstrom.
Panik, 30, was acquired from Washington along with Jakub Vrana in the deal for Anthony Mantha at the trade deadline, along with two draft picks.
The Red Wings will retain half of Panik’s $2.7 million salary ($1.375 million) and salary cap hit.
Panik had one goal and three assists (four points) in 12 games with the Wings, after coming over with Vrana. He had three goals and six assists (nine points) in 36 games with the Capitals last season.
With Leddy on the roster, and retaining 50% of Panik’s contract, the Red Wings now have $37,474,723 of committed to 10 players. They have $44,025,277 of cap space, per capfriendly.com, available, with restricted free agents Vrana, Hronek and Tyler Bertuzzi still needing to be signed along with UFA’s Luke Glendening and Jonathan Bernier, who are expected to be brought back.