What's noteworthy about Nick Leddy's 500th career NHL game was just how fast he got there.
Leddy reached the milestone in Saturday's 6-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, seven years to the day since making his NHL debut (Oct. 7, 2010) for the Chicago Blackhawks in Colorado. He's played in 500 of a possible 542 games since then.
"Time has really flown by," Leddy said. "Just thinking about it the other day, going on my eighth season now and it feels like just yesterday I was playing my first game."
Leddy's 500-game career can almost be split evenly between the Blackhawks (258 games) and the Islanders (242 games), but it's his time with the Islanders where he's evolved into a top-tier defenseman.
Just over three years since the Isles acquired Leddy from the Blackhawks on Oct. 4, 2014 for T.J. Brennan, Ville Pokka and Anders Nilsson. At the time, Leddy was on the third pairing on a deep Blackhawks blue line and while he showed a lot of promise, Chicago was unable to keep him with their salary camp constraints and the Islanders pounced.
His role expanded immediately playing with the Islanders playing on a pair with Johnny Boychuk and it has only grown over the past three seasons as he's come into his own. Last season he scored a career-high 46 points (11G, 35A), his third straight career-year.
"Confidence wise it was huge," Leddy said. "Being able to put up more minutes and playing with different players and especially Johnny, he's such a special player and we compliment each other really well and make each other before."
Today, he still skates with Boychuk on the Isles top pairing and plays on the top power play unit. Leddy led the team in defensive scoring in each of the past three seasons and Head Coach Doug Weight thinks his ceiling is even higher.
"He's right there in that upper echelon of defensemen," Weight said during training camp. "He's getting more consistent and he should be in talk for those top teams and Norris Trophy and stuff. He can skate, shoot and he's a savvy player as well."
Video: NYI 6, BUF 3: Nick Leddy
"He should be a guy that can play north of 24 [minutes] on most nights and if need be up to the 30 mark," Weight added. "He's a real important piece. He's an engine and when he's on his game we generally win and we generally look like we have the puck."
Leddy has already reached every hockey player's ultimate goal winning the Stanley Cup in 2013 with Chicago, but getting to 1,000 games is also on the career checklist.
"I'm looking to keep going and make it where Chimmer is," Leddy said of Jason Chimera's 1000 games. "That would be such a neat accomplishment. First and foremost it's Stanley Cups."