The New York Islanders have a wealth of talent on the blueline. But no blueliner is more important than Nick Leddy. The quarterback the Islanders can rely on.
The big news for the New York Islanders defensive corps has revolved around Travis Hamonic rescinding his trade request to stay in Brooklyn.
It’s great news. Hamonic is one of the Isles better defencemen. He’s young at only 25-years-old and carries a very friendly cap hit of just $3.857 million over the next 4 years. His services are invaluable for the Isles.
With much of the attention on Hamonic, it’s counterpart Nick Leddy has clearly established himself as the defensive leader on the team. A study of his zone exits by Sportsnet’s Dimitri Filipovic shows exactly how good Leddy is.
Nick Leddy and Zone Exits
The study conducted by Filipovic shows how defencemen exit the zone and their success rate over the first round of the playoffs.
Nick Leddy tops the list with a 65.2% possession rate amongst defensemen playing at least once in the first round. That possession rate meant that of all successful exit from his defensive zone Leddy left the zone in possession or successfully passed it to a teammate 65.2% of the time.
His 65.2% is even more impressive when you consider that Leddy is second amongst defensemen in the list in the number of zone exit attempts with 69. Only Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm has more with 76.
Leaving your zone in possession is invaluable in today’s NHL. It sounds obvious when you think about it. But leaving the defensive zone with the puck means a team increases it chances of generating offense. But this hasn’t been studied until very recently thanks to the analytics movement.
Work at the Blueline
It’s not all sunshine and lollipops for Leddy. A further study done by Filipovic on the same group of defensemen regarding their defensive work in breaking up plays yielded different results.
In this second study, Leddy faired much worse falling to the lower side of the chart. When the play came the other way Leddy was successful at breaking up plays 6.15% of the time.
Leddy is clearly a better offensive threat than on the defensive side of the game. But with the minutes that Leddy logged, an average of 27:42 of ice time in the playoffs, you want Leddy to trend upwards.
At 25-years-old, there’s still time for Leddy to improve on the defensive side. Or the Islanders can pair him with a player that excels at breaking up plays.
For much of the season, Leddy was paired with Johnny Boychuk, a player that also faired on the lower end of Filipovic’s second evaluation. But Hamonic was one of the top performers in the same study. Hamonic broke up more than 11% of zone entries against.
The two still played a total of 558 minutes together this season according to hockeyanalysis.com. Hockeyanalysis.com also has Leddy’s Corsi was above the 50% mark when playing with Hamonic. Meaning possession was more often with than against them when the two played together.
Now that Hamonic has decided to stay for the time being, their partnership can grow and become a truly dominant 1-2. Boychuk would have to fall to the second pairing, but after his last year, this can only be a good thing for the Islanders.