Nick Leddy has been a rock on the Islanders’ blue line this season. His status was elevated to cornerstone Tuesday.
Leddy, who the Islanders acquired on Oct. 4, decided after four months and 61 games that he looked good in orange and blue, resigning with the team for seven years.
“There are a lot of things that go into it,” Leddy said. “Every aspect of the team, organization, Long Island and my personal happiness, all of those things are great.”
Leddy, a 23-year-old, said he felt welcomed into the tight-knit Islanders’ locker room immediately after being traded. The Eden Prairie, MN, native is amongst a stable of talented young players – including three other Minnesotans – but he’s not here for the social scene; he sees big things from the Metropolitan Division leaders.
“I see a great group of guys with a lot of talent,” Leddy said. “We’re a younger team which is very nice with a lot of potential. We have a team that can go a long way and I’m definitely very excited.”
That excitement reverberated through the Islanders’ room after the announcement. His teammates know first-hand what kind of impact Leddy has on a nightly basis.
“He's still really young and we're excited that he's going to be here for the long haul,” captain John Tavares said. “I think everyone has seen what he brings to the table; he’s very Scott Niedermayer-like with his ability to skate and make plays and be effective in all situations. He’s a tremendous guy, he's fit in really well here.”
The Islanders added a top-pairing blueliner to their back end when they acquired Leddy. He is one of the team’s best skaters, able to rush the puck through the neutral zone and nullify odd-man rushes against as he hustles back defensively. It’s one of the major strengths of his game, something that was overshadowed in the depth of the Chicago defense corps, but was not lost on the Islanders.
“You could really see his game start to blossom and contribute in so many areas and see his confidence really start to grow,” Tavares said. “As a person he just fit in right away, just being a young guy and knowing a few guys when he got here. He's been a lot of fun to be around.”
Leddy has a career high eight goals this season and leads the Islanders with 251 shot attempts (SAT), which is indicative of how well he drives possession on the ice.
By signing the extension now, Islanders’ General Manager Garth Snow is ensuring that the Islanders get Leddy through his prime. Leddy plays over 20 minutes a game in a variety of situations for the Islanders, but hasn’t missed a game all season. In fact, he’s the Islanders’ reigning ironman, having suited up in 313 consecutive games as of Tuesday morning.
“Nick has proven to be an elite defenseman in this league at a young age,” Snow said. “He’s the type of player on the ice, in the locker room and in the community that we’re thrilled to add as a cornerstone of our defensive core.”
He’ll be around for the long haul now, anchoring the Islanders’ blue line and helping steer the ship towards the ultimate goal.
“I just want to keep improving every day and make the guys better around me,” Leddy said. “The main goal is to win the Stanley Cup.”
For the Islanders’ rock, the next seven years are set in stone.