An Analysis of Detroit’s Newest Defenseman, Nick Leddy

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Last week, the Detroit Red Wings made their first major move of the offseason, acquiring defenseman Nick Leddy in a trade with the New York Islanders. To understand the transaction, one has to understand the player – so let’s dig into his recent play with the Islanders.

2020-21 Stats:

Goals:  2

Assists: 29

Relative Corsi For % : 2.1

Average Time on Ice: 21:35

Strengths:

  • Great puck movement, especially on the power play
  • Good control in the offensive zone
  • Great in transition, either with the puck or finding passing lanes
  • Experienced
  • Good skater
  • Heavy minutes/top-pairing defenseman

Weaknesses:

  • Poor shot (Shot Percentage was just 2.5 percent on 79 attempts)
  • Underwhelming defensively
  • Overall play on the decline

How Does He Fit In Detroit?

At first glance, the Leddy trade is a bit of a head scratcher. Steve Yzerman traded decent draft capital (2nd round pick) and a bottom pairing winger for an aging defenseman on a bad contract ($5.5 million). However, taking a step back and looking at the big picture, the trade makes a bit more sense.

For starters, the Red Wings fill an obvious need on the left side of the defense. Without the trade, Yzerman would’ve went to the market to fill the gap. In fact, the left side of the blue line still might need some bolstering even after the trade.

More importantly, Yzerman fills the gap of a second top-pairing defenseman. Leddy had top-pairing minutes on a team that made the Conference Finals (21:35 average time on ice for the year), playing in key situations to keep the game in hand. Leddy will certainly receive those type of minutes in Detroit, playing the role that Filip Hronek did last year: put out in late-game, high pressure situations where experience and safe play are key.

Leddy will also make a good addition to the power play. A third of his points (One goal and 10 assists) were scored on the power play and his corsi for percentage doubles (From 2.1 overall to 4.8) when he’s in on the man advantage. While he isn’t a scoring threat on the power play, his well above average puck movement and sneaky-good high danger passes will create chances for some of Detroit’s wingers. In fact, based on the lack of offensively gifted defensemen on Detroit’s roster, he’ll likely become the go-to quarterback for the power play.

Perhaps the most important (And most discussed) angle of the trade is the role Leddy will play in the development of the Red Wings all-important rookie defenseman, Moritz Seider. Leddy’s NHL experience and leadership will be important additions to the locker room, especially as the organization attempts to put some weight on Seider’s shoulders. On the ice, Leddy can support Mo’s development whether they are paired together or not.  After Seider’s offensive game blossomed in Sweden this year, it seems the young German could play a larger role on the team’s offense than previously expected. Leddy can help Seider transition his offensive toolkit to North American ice, creating space and creating high-danger chances with smart passes and quick puck movement.

It’s impossible to truly judge a trade like this before the results are in. But based on what Leddy can bring to Detroit this season, it looks like Yzerman may have had another successful trade on his hands – even if it’s not the fleecing fans are accustomed to.

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