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