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Getting to know an Islander: Nick Leddy

As a top-four Islanders defenseman, the Penguins will be seeing a lot of Leddy this upcoming series. How does he stack up against Pittsburgh?

NHL: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins
Nick Leddy moves the puck ahead of Sidney Crosby during a 6-3 Penguins win at PPG Paints Arena.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In this installment of Pensburgh’s Islanders series, we check in on the New York blueline by taking a look at veteran top-four defenseman Nick Leddy.

Player: Nick Leddy

Age: 30

Size: 6’0”, 207 pounds

Boxcar stats: 56 games played, 2 goals, 29 assists, 31 points, 8 penalty minutes

5v5 Fancy stats (1,001 minutes in 2020-21, data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick):

Corsi For%: 45.82%

Goals For to Goals Against: 38 to 38 (50.0 GF%)

GF%: 47.90

Scoring Chance%: 47.26%

High Danger Scoring Chance%: 52.20%

Leddy stacked up a few forty-point seasons for the Islanders from 2015-16 to 2017-18, reaching a career-high 46 points (11-35—46) in 2016-17. He cleared the thirty-point plateau for the first time in three seasons in 2020-21, thanks to 29 assists— 10 of which came on the power play.

The Islanders’ power play, which ranked among the bottom 10 in the NHL with an 18.8% success rate, is where Leddy found success against Pittsburgh. In eight games against the Penguins this season, he registered five helpers on the man advantage.

It’s easy to pick out Leddy on the Islanders’ second power-play unit: he stays at the point, working to keep the puck in at the blue line. The most danger he poses for the Penguins may be when he aims a shot through a crowded slot and finds an Islander ready to deflect it, like on this John-Gabriel Pageau goal from Feb. 11.

Leddy is a reliable puck-carrier when entering the Islanders’ offensive zone— his first move generally isn’t to blindly fling the puck down the ice when he could manage a controlled zone entry— but it’s possible to catch him flat-footed when he commits too hard to a pinch, like how the Penguins beat him on the rush to set up this Freddy Gaudreau goal from March 27.

Leddy averages over 21 minutes a night for the Islanders, so the Penguins can expect to see a lot of him, especially on these power-play opportunities— even if advanced stats generally rank his impact as similar to that of replacement-level NHL player.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Leddy was most frequently matched up against Evgeni Malkin’s line in this regular-season series. How well he does in preventing Malkin from getting shots on goal— and how much he can produce on the power play— could help shape this upcoming first-round series.