This is going to be my passionate response to the claim that New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy is bad. He ain’t. The stats are bad. …And maybe his teammates.
After Monday night’s game against the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy was a -42. That’s the worst plus/minus on the team by a 20 point margin. Next on the list is Anders Lee at -22.
So does that mean Nick Leddy is bad at his role on the blue line? No. We all know that plus/minus is an incredibly flawed stat. And if you didn’t know that, now you do.
Yeah, Leddy has a -42, there’s no denying it. Leddy is on the ice for a lot of goals against. But look at plays like this. This is why Leddy is sitting with a -42 on the season. An absolutely fluke play that ends up in the Islanders net, -1 for Leddy.
Makes Players Better, But Dragged Down By Bad Players
Has Nick Leddy been great this year? No. Of course not. His 41 points in 76 games can tell you that. But to say he’s been bad is just as wrong.
We know how good Nick Leddy is. We’ve seen his quality over and over. Why are we essentially pinning the blame on Leddy for what is a team-wide defensive issue?
Just look at the defensive core around him. The two players of quality in that eight to nine-man rotation are Boychuk and Leddy himself. Sure the other six to seven D are OK, but none of them belong on the top pair.
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The gulf in quality from Leddy and Boychuk to the rest of the defensive lineup is stark. Placing the blame for the Islanders defensive woes on the singular shoulders of Nick Leddy is short-sighted. I know it’s easy to see that -42 and say: “There! That’s why we stink!” My answer is no, no it’s not.
Leddy actually makes the players around him better. Look at these three WOWY charts for Boychuk, Pulock, and Scott Mayfield. These are the only three defensemen on the Islanders roster that Leddy has any significant playing time with.
Note on WOWY: WOWY stands for “With Or Without You”. Each graph will demonstrate how a certain player is with or without other players no the ice when it comes to score-adjusted shots.
Note on reading charts: Each chart is laid out in an X-Y plane. Look for the number two highlighted with a black box, which represents a that players score-adjusted shot/60 with Leddy. The red box with a number two shows how that player performs without Leddy.
See Johnny Boychuk’s WOWY chart here. better
See Ryan Pulock’s WOWY chart here. better
See Scott Mayfield’s WOWY chart here. better
Notice how in all three graphs the black boxed number two is closer to “Good”. While the red boxed number two’s are closer to the “Bad”. Showing the positive impact Nick Leddy has on those players.
The argument I want to make is that Nick Leddy makes players around him better. It’s just that the players around him aren’t very good. Is Nick Leddy the weakest link? No. Hardly. The players around him make him look like one.