Islanders 2019-20 player grade: Nick Leddy defense was an issue
New York Islanders Nick Leddy offense wasn’t an issue but his defense was.
He’s had to adjust to a new role with Barry Trotz behind the bench for the New York Islanders. Nick Leddy went from the team’s number one defenseman to being the top guy on the team’s. third pair.
My expectation for Leddy going into 2019-20 was that he’d be able to assert himself more offensively than he did in year one of Barry Trotz. In the second year as the third pair guy, Leddy was going to face a lower quality of competition so his offensive flair should be able to shine through. As should his defensive chops.
I figured putting up 30-35 points while being a stable veteran on the third pair would be what we should expect from Nick Leddy in 2019-20.
With 60 games played over the 2019-20 season, Nick Leddy recorded 21 points. At that pace, if he had played a full season (even the eight games he missed with a lower-body injury in the first half of the season) Leddy would have produced 29 points.
That doesn’t quite meet my expectation of 30-35 points, but it’s pretty darn close and good enough frankly.
For the +/- crowd, Leddy finished with a -1. Only Johnny Boychuk had a worse +/- than Leddy with a -11. Noah Dobson was tied with a -1.
Nick Leddy still finished fourth in total ice time with 1267 minutes after Ryan Pulock (1524), Devon Toews (1395), and Scott Mayfield (1336). If Adam Pelech had played the full season, Leddy would have surely finished fifth for d-men.
Leddy was very much a third pair guy who put up the numbers that were expected of him. So far so good.
Now, was he a “stable” third pair defenseman?
His expected goals against were the worst on the team for defensemen no matter how you slice it: xGA, xGA/60, Relative xGA (all at 5on5). The number of quality shots that opponents were able to generate while Nick Leddy was on the ice was greater than any of his teammates on the blueline.
If you want a better way to see that, just look at Nick Leddy’s 5on5 on-ice visualizations from HockeyViz. Red is bad and there’s a lot of red right in front of the New York Islanders goal with Nick Leddy on the ice.
And it’s not like Leddy was on the ice against top tier opponents. Looking at his quality of opponents and teammates it shows that he played against bottom tier forwards more than you’d expect.
That’s not what you’d define as stable.
His offensive numbers were fine and right where we should expect them to be. That’s certainly something to be pleased about.
But when Nick Leddy was on the ice, quality opportunities found their way towards the Islanders net more than any other defenders. And that was against lower caliber opponents.
Defensively he’s not a stable presence for the Isles. Leddy’s offense isn’t an issue but his defense is. That’s why his grade is a ‘C’.