Islanders: No worries following Devon Toews trade

Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

There was worry that trading away Devon Toews might have been a bad move by the New York Islanders, those worries were silenced after game one.

Thursday was the first time the New York Islanders took the ice after the unfortunate Devon Toews trade. In an attempt to create more cap space, Lou Lamoriello traded Toews to the Colorado Avalanche for two second-round picks.

Going into the 2021 season, there was a worry about how the Islanders would replace what Toews brought to the table. Nick Leddy would step into Toews’s role, but could the veteran fill that void next to Scott Mayfield? What about the power play where Toews led defensemen in ice time?

It’s only been a single game, but after a stellar 4-0 win over the Rangers, it looks like the Islanders will be just fine.

No Worries

Nick Leddy hasn’t been at his regular self for a while, so the worries about his ability to step up into the Isles second defensive pair were legitimate. But Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello clearly felt that the Nick Leddy they saw in the playoffs could be the Nick Leddy they see through the regular season.

During the Isles first game of the regular season, it seems like they were right.

Leddy finished with two points (one on the power play), a 1.22 xGF (1.06 at 5v5) and 0.46 xGA (0.55 at 5v5), he was great in transition and great in terms of shot contributions with a 68.75CF% at 5v5.

Nick Leddy did exactly what the Islanders thought he could do when they handed him back some of the responsibility he lost with Toews on the team. Specifically at 5on5. Now how about the power play?

Last season, Toews led defensemen for time on the power play with 154:24 minutes. That’s 30+ minutes over the next defenseman (Ryan Pulock) at 121:57. Everything the Islanders were doing on the man-advantage last year ran through Toews.

The fact that the Isles went 2/8 on the man-advantage is already a clear step in the right direction. And most of that ran through a divide and conquer approach. Nick Leddy (7:21PP TOI) and Noah Dobson (7:00PP TOI) were two of the most used defenders on the power play, though they only shared the ice for 1:27 of 5on4 power-play time (according to NaturalStatTrick).

And again, it worked. Dobson looked perfectly comfortable running the Islanders power play. The 12th overall pick in 2018 was perfectly suited for the power-play quarterback role at the top of the blueline. His distribution was perfect and he never sat with the puck too long.

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I want to be clear, it would have been great if the Islanders could have kept Devon Toews. This isn’t a “the Isles are better off without him piece”. This is a “the Isles seem to be able to fill his voice” piece. With Nick Leddy stepping up on the blue line and Dobson taking more responsibility the Isles seem perfectly fine without Devon Toews.