Nick Leddy can help the Detroit Red Wings on defense. Here’s how

Detroit Free Press

Nick Leddy received a phone call from Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, who welcomed his latest acquisition to the rebuild.

Leddy cost the Wings a 2021 second-round draft pick, but all the ways he potentially can help alleviates that price. Leddy is an offensive defenseman, a left-handed shot who projects to partner with Moritz Seider to ease his transition to the NHL and a potential trade-deadline chip.

After getting over “the shock,” as Leddy put it, of Friday’s trade, he spoke Sunday of the chance he sees in leaving the New York Islanders, a playoff team, to join a developing team in Detroit.

“It was a change, but I’m excited to be here and really looking forward to this opportunity,” Leddy said. “It’s a younger team and I think I’ve been fortunate enough to be with some winning cultures and I really want to bring that to the Red Wings. Their history speaks for itself, with all the Cups. At the end of the day, winning is everything. I’m just excited for the opportunity.”

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Leddy, 30, recorded 31 points in 56 games last season. He helped the Islanders reach the playoffs, recording six assists in 19 games, ousting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins before falling to the Lighting, the eventual Stanley Cup champions, in a seven-game series in the semifinals. Now he’ll get a chance to help Seider, the 2019 first-round pick poised to join the Wings this fall.

“I’m definitely looking forward to mentoring him and teaching him what I can, and I’m excited to learn from him, too,” Leddy said. “At the end of the day. I’m just here to do my best, whether it’s teaching younger guys or learning from them. Trying to take a younger guy under my wing is something I’ve always tried to do. Leading by example on the ice is what I’ve always been about.”

Yzerman used pick No. 52, which he acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in 2020 in the Andreas Athanasiou trade, but the Wings still have two second-round picks: Their own, at No. 38, and the New York Rangers’ pick from the Marc Staal trade, at No. 48. And Yzerman unloaded forward Richard Panik, a throw-in from the Anthony Mantha/Jakub Vrana trade. (The Wings retained 50% of Panik’s salary.)

Yzerman is trying to balance stoking the rebuild with improving the current team, and Leddy checks that latter box because of his experience and his offensive instincts. He’s in the last year of a contract with a $5.5 million salary cap hit, and with 121 playoff games to his credit, he’s likely to attract offers at next season’s trade deadline — so he could also ultimately benefit the future.

As it stands now, the Wings’ top-four defense corp next season shapes up to be Seider, Leddy, Filip Hronek and Danny DeKeyser. The Wings made DeKeyser available in the expansion draft, but the Seattle Kraken will be eyeing either Troy Stecher, a 27-year-old right-shot with a $1.7 million salary cap hit, or Dennis Cholowski, a 23-year-old former first-round pick whose development has disappointed.

In addition to the phone call from Yzerman — “it was all positive things,” Leddy said —Wings captain Dylan Larkin texted to welcome Leddy, as did Frans Nielsen and Thomas Greiss, his former teammates with the Islanders. The messages were similar: “Nothing but great things about the organization,” Leddy said.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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