Nick Leddy has been involved in more trade rumours than most across the last few years. With a surplus of defensemen on the team and in the system, it’s been speculated that Leddy could be moved to help with New York’s scoring depth. But does trading Leddy make sense?
It probably all depends on the trade and it’s important to remember that Leddy carries value on the team too. Since his first full NHL season in 2011-12, Leddy has missed just eight games. Eight games in eight years is impressive and it means he’s someone you can pretty much always rely on to be in the lineup. His usage is also very high– he was second in TOI among all Islanders skaters this year and also led all Islanders’ defensemen in power play time.
The question of whether he fits into plans for the future needs to be answered as well. I think the answer is that he could in the short-term but not long-term. Leddy will be 31 years old in three years when his contract expires and signing an offensive defenseman in his 30s usually doesn’t turn out well at all.
Leddy and Pulock are the top offensive defenseman on the Islanders though and there’s the potential to keep Leddy for the next few years and make playoff runs while he’s he’s still young enough. That being said, this team is quietly assembling what will be a very competitive roster down the road and if Leddy is moved, the team could create a young and solid defense core in a few years. The left side could contain the likes of Devon Toews, Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho, while the right side would be loaded with Ryan Pulock, Noah Dobson and Bode Wilde. Sure, Johnny Boychuk, Thomas Hickey and Scott Mayfield may no longer be a fit (Hickey isn’t right now anyways though) but that’s a good looking blue line.
So if you’re to move Leddy, what kind of forward could you expect back? Based on how valuable defensemen are right now, especially offensive defensemen, Leddy could bring back the likes of a top-six winger. I say winger because Leddy probably isn’t bringing back a star center and if it is a center that comes back New York’s way, they’re probably a step down from whatever winger the Islanders could get back in terms of skill level.
Take the forward group, made up of Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey, then hopefully Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and perhaps Jordan Eberle, add a forward in free agency and the return from the Leddy trade. Then throw the likes of Oliver Wahlstrom in too. That looks like a pretty well-rounded group team.
In summary, there shouldn’t necessarily be a rush to trade Leddy but it should also be a trade that’s looked at this summer and one that should happen at some point. Sebastian Aho could be ready to make the jump to the NHL but there may not be a problem giving him a bit more time to develop in Bridgeport. Leddy probably shouldn’t play out the next three years of his contract in New York based on the return he could fetch but this is still a trade that needs to be made under the right circumstances.