Chicago Blackhawks’ Nick Leddy Not Ready for Big Leagues?

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Rookie defenseman Nick Leddy

This past Sunday, Chicago Blackhawks’ rookie defenseman Nick Leddy, acquired midseason last year from the Minnesota Wild, was sent to Rockford of the AHL: a decision that still has fans scratching their heads.

At nineteen, Leddy was the youngest defenseman to appear in a Blackhawks’ season-opening game since 1999.  Despite his young age and inexperience, Leddy has managed to steadily up his game since his not-so-brilliant debut Thursday night, in the season-opening 4-3 loss to the Avalanche. He had played all six games with one goal and a -1 rating.

It seems apparent that Leddy, although seemingly nervy and inexperienced, was fresh talent for the Blackhawks to take advantage of. Although his skills were raw and at times his judgment was unpolished, as a rookie, his game was on the upswing.

By: Harrini Krishnan

Obviously the Hawks had expected big things from him as well, pairing him with Hjalmarsson after Brian Campbell’s injury. Most fans believed it was Campbell’s injury in the first place that had kept Leddy on the roster and were shocked to hear him being let go even before Campbell’s recovery. So why this strange move? And why now?

Nick Leddy

“It’s a delicate position as a young kid on the defense,” Quenneville told reporters, “But he has earned the right and the opportunity considering how he has played. He looks like he belongs on the ice when he’s playing.”

So why then is Leddy on Rockford ice when he should seemingly be here in Chicago?

Even his fellow teammates clearly acknowledge his potential.

“A guy like him is going to look at the stats and he won’t be happy about it,” Jonathan Toews said, “I still found that he seemed like he was really steady and very confident on the blue line, especially with guys coming at him.”

Not too long ago, we found Kane in the same position—a rookie in need of honing skills. But with the reputation attached to the defending champs, Leddy had to live up to higher pressure and has managed to do so with admirable tenacity. “He’s pretty confident back there and he’s really poised with the puck,” Kane said. “That’s what you need to play on this team.”

Granted he may not be the best option in the defensive line-up, but he sure isn’t the worst. Hendry and Cullimore aren’t exactly the stars on ice either. So why, then, were they spared while Leddy is booted out of the big leagues? It seems like a strange move…but was it?

Leddy’s still young—very young—and mentally, he’s delicate.  Delicate doesn’t cut it in the NHL. Before the game even starts, he’s shaking in his skates, which is understandable, but the doubt and confusion that takes over him at certain points shouldn’t be happening on the ice. He needs time to develop and furnish his raw skills.

“I think we want to make sure he gets a lot of ice time,” Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville said following morning practice. “We want to see him play in all situations. The AHL is a great place for him. There’s still a possibility he could be back here at any moment. We want him to continue to develop and play.”

As a Blackhawk, there’s not much spotlight on Leddy, obviously overshadowed by Hjalmarsson’s sizeable presence on the ice. As an Icehog, on the other hand, Leddy will get the attention he needs and with increasing ice time, it’ll not only give him a chance to develop in all different situations but will also give the Blackhawks a better look at his capabilities.

With Cullimore and Hendry still on the ice, this move still may seem pretty stupid especially before Campbell’s recovery.

Despite what you may think, Quenneville is a lot smarter than you believe.

By sending Leddy back to Rockford while he’s still under the 10 game cap, according to the entry-level contract, the Hawks get to hold on to him for another year—a whole another year for him to step up his game, and when he’s back (and it’s obvious he’ll be back) he’ll be physically and mentally ready for the big leagues.

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Comments

  1. I think Joe did the right thing by sending him back, better to make the investment in sending him back. I do not appreciate him being sent down though, in that he was one of my starters in fantasy this season.

  2. haha totally agree. It was a smart move in the long run but the current defensive lineup still isn’t where it should be, especially without campbell on the ice.

  3. I hope, for his sake at least, he doesn’t turn into this year’s Jack Skille, and later Bryan Bickell. where they’re sending him up and down up and down i-90 to rockford back and forth all year.

    its kinda funny coincidence for skille, as he played college hockey at UW and rockford is sorta the halfway pt between madison and chicago

  4. haha well Skille’s cap was like too high. He should’ve just re-worked the contract and played for the minimum which is still more than what he would make in the minors. I believe it was the same issue with Bickell, so I don’t think Leddy is in the same boat or at least I hope not.

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