Player Eval #2: Nick Leddy and the Hawks sign Salak.

The Hawks signed goaltender Alexander Salak, who was part of the Frolik deal with Florida to a 2 year contract. They also signed Byron Froese and David Gilbert to 3 year entry level contracts. Salak, who is 24 made 2 appearances in the NHL last year and made 34 saves on 40 shots. Looks like SB and company have made a choice in Crawford's back-up.  We shall have to wait and see about these other two fellows, though both recorded decent numbers in their respective leagues and Gilbert had an astounding plus/minus.

Nick Leddy:
When I set out to evaluate my student's performances in my class, I do not use the same scale for each individual. Every person comes with their own strengths, opportunities, likes and dislikes. Everyone has varying levels of intelligence in a wide array of areas, aptitude for different subjects and unique levels of experience in these subjects. If you really want to establish a truthful "rating" system, you have to account for all of these elements and then some.
As with Crawford, this was Leddy's first season in the NHL and he only played half of it. At 20 years of age he might still be a bit unpolished to have been given the role he was and this is important in evaluating his performance as a Hawk. Not a big guy, Leddy is 5' 11" and 179 pounds as of the end of the season. Im sure he will add a few pounds before next season's start and this will be quite helpful. In his 46 games, Leddy recorded 4 goals, 3 assists and a +/- of -3 (not the best stats in the world). These numbers are a bit shocking given that Leddy seems to posses great puck-handling and skating abilities.
When called up in the middle of the season the most frequent comment was about how poised a player he was for someone so young and inexperienced. Everyone noticed his fluidity on his skates and most probably expected more out of him production wise. The fact remains that Leddy came in and did exactly what he was supposed to do and even more if you ask me. 
Essentially, Leddy was acquired in the Cam Barker deal which I say worked in our favor. Leddy has extreme potential (although, so did Barker) and will be (along with Campoli) the reason to not keep Campbell around (hopefully sooner than later). Leddy spent a lot of time with Keith on the ice and I think this might have hurt his progression. Having the worst season of his career (fingers crossed), Keith could be seen getting angry with his partner from time to time and I think this allowed Leddy to start questioning himself as the season progressed. He most surely shined brighter in earlier games than he did towards the end. This could also be a result of lengthy ice-time for a new guy. I personally felt like Campoli could have relieved him of a bit in the remaining weeks of the season.
Though smallish, Leddy was fairly physical. He is smart and knows how to play the body without taking himself out of the play, a priceless ability. He is also not scarred to hold onto the puck when being pressured, again, a priceless ability. His quick hands are accented with his great vision and when used correctly in a comfortable situation, his numbers shall improve immensely. The greatest element to look at when evaluating his worth is his age. D-men have been known to take a few years to mature correctly and Leddy has much of that to do though already a smart player.
As a result of maybe not feeling ever so comfortable in his role as a Hawk and lengthened ice-time, Leddy began to make some mistakes late into the season and playoffs. There were more than a couple of times when he misplayed a rush or miscommunicated with his partner (or the other way around) and allowed odd-man rushes which put him out of position. Given his size, being out of position made him extremely vulnerable.
In the end, Leddy is kind of in the same place he was when he played his first game in the NHL, a potential, with the exception of having a great deal more experience and playoff experience to boot. The fact is probably this: we shouldn't have to be doing an eval on Leddy just yet. He might have been picked from the orchard a bit too soon, or in the wrong situation. We also have to think about the rest of the team. Besides Hjammer, every D-man is a puck mover, and although I think this could end up being an advantage when the forwards figure out how to change up their movement to compensate, or the coaching staff tells them to, there were many gaps left vulnerable for easy pickings. Plus, how does Campoli fit into this mix? He is way too good to let go.
My grade is this: B+. I honestly think that he performed as well as he could given the situation and did better than most would have in his shoes. His talent was enough to have probably earned an A, but his few too many mistakes detracts from that. I also found myself wondering how his numbers weren't higher far too often while watching games. When Campbell is finally traded, he and Campoli will fit really well into what seems is a quick transition system that starts from the D. His career is extremely promising given that the Hawks don't screw it up. My gut tells me they will get it right.
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  • Picked from the orchard too soon is what I frequently felt watching Leddy play. In a season where I didn't expect a return to the cup, what I really wanted to see from the Hawks was a purposeful use of their time to reload. I think the analysis is spot on, and he had a good year for a rookie. He made mistakes that could be expected and sometimes those mistakes were crucial and costly. This summer he needs to fill out but more often then not, I thought his issues were from positioning rather then outright being pushed away and I would think that you can fix that kind of stuff although my rec league teammates are still waiting for me to fix that in my game. Course they are also waiting for me to develop a solid slapshot and do a host of other things, but this isn't about my rookie year.

    To some degree, I find it a little hard to give Leddy a grade because there's his play as a rookie to grade but there's also a grade to be given on how well he stepped up and dealt with a position he probably shouldn't have been in. I would give him a higher grade on the latter. He could be a key piece that helps the Hawks transition away from Campbell, but that is going to have to be a full team effort. Let's go Bruins tonight!

  • Given the choice of Boynton, Cullimore and Leddy who would you play? Testament to how shallow the depth on the team was last year. Exelby didn't even get a sniff. Couple this with the fact that Campbell was out for a period and Leddy gets to do the Rockford-Chicago shuffle because salary cap constraints wouldn't allow him to stick and practice with the big boys and I think he did a commendable job for a 19 year old.

    Early on, I was of the mindset that he was being showcased as I saw nothing the 'hawks needed about his style of play, and, as you all know, I'm big on the need for more physical defenders. As the season ground on, my tune changed somewhat as the seeds of his potential began to germinate. Good skater, decent puck mover, good shot

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    When I look at Campbell and Leddy, what I think more about is three years from now. Right about the time Campbell will be leaving, Leddy should just be hitting his stride. The trick bag for me is where do you play Leddy now? If he's on the third pair, is that really a good way for him to learn when you ultimately have him penciled in to be a three or four guy? Given his play this year, I can't really make an argument to move him back down now so I dont' really know what will be best to keep developing him. Hopefully he avoids the sophomore slump.

    Ideally, I think it would be better for him to see more ice time and against better talent. Is top AHL talent better then fourth line NHL talent on a consistent basis? I dunno. How bout a hypothetical question. Assume we have a reasonable big guy to pair with Campoli and that Campoli is signed for a reasonable cap hit. At that point, would you rather see Leddy stay and play third pair minutes or get more top pair minutes in the AHL. If necessity forces their hand to keep him here and play third pair, I don't think it's the worst thing in the world, but if there was a choice, I'd like to see him be in a situation where he gets more ice time.

    Now for a real kicker, would you trade Hammer for a center and slide Leddy up to that slot?

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    No, I would trade #2 for a center.


  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Hmm, those types of questions are why they pay SB the big bucks, Vegas. I suppose I would first need an answer to what is the direction this team wants to move toward, where are the deficiencies based on that direction, and take a close look at exactly what is available. I'm all ready getting a headache trying to think of how this would all play out under the cap.

    In the final analysis for me, I do think there needs to be a better physical presence on D as well as at forward. I'm thinking they may go with Frolik to start the season as the second line center and try to bulk up on the fourth line. I don't advocate trading Hammer, but as we've discussed before, his contract is the most appealing to a team in the market for a D man.

    As for Leddy, he is going to be good. I'd rather see him stay as 5/6 guy for the time being and would not want him to see the AHL if possible. I would expect the Hammer trade (hypothetically) would fetch a 3/4 defender.

    Yes, I would trade Hammer for a proven center and slide Leddy up if that was the scenario.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    First hair-pulling and now biting, Burrows continues to cement his rep as a total douche/girly boy. And get a load of one of the Sedins going down like he was shot after a harmless cross-check/push. I truly hate this team.. cmon Bruins keep up the physical/dirty play and run Luongo a couple of times. The Canucks will start taking more stupid penalties, must get the power play going though

  • In reply to SDSTAN:

    Here's a third strike for one of the dirtiest players and biggest divers in the NHL. A beer league hockey game to boot.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Grr. Q's razor cuts again. No score on the five on three and the finger biters come back to win it. That really blows but that's a textbook Nucks win.

  • No arguments from me, HH. I agree with everything you say. His contract is the key. Affordable and value for the dollar.

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