Noon Number (December 4th): 16

Jonathan Daniel

With a sizeable chunk of the season already over and the Chicago Blackhawks coming to town on Thursday, today's Noon Number will be focusing on, former Minnesota Wild 1st round pick, Nick Leddy and how he has played so far this year compared to the Wild'd young defensive core.

Leddy was picked 16th overall in the 2009 draft by Chuck Fletcher, the first draft selection he made as Wild GM. Being from Eden Prarie, Minnesota and playing college hockey for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the Wild fanbase was very happy that the organisation picked Leddy. Then, in February of the following season, Leddy was traded along with Kim Johnsson to the Blackhawks for Cam Barker. Barker would be bought-out by the Wild just over a year later while Leddy went straight into the Blackhawks team in 2010 and hasn't looked back since. Even though he is still only 22, Leddy is in his 4th NHL season.

That trade is certainly one of the most lopsided in recent NHL history and has, deservedly, been roundly mocked ever since. A lot of Wild fans are still bitter that the team traded a local-boy, and this bitterness has become a joke amongst other Wild fans, with Leddy often jokingly being referred to as "The Chosen One" or "The Golden Boy".

What I want to do in this article is to see what kind of player Leddy has become by comparing his performance so far this season with the Wild's other young defencemen. I want to see if Leddy's absence has really hurt this group, and where he would fit into the depth chart.

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-Here are the 4 players  I will be comparing and some basic information about each of them:

Player

Age

Year Drafted

Pick

Shoots

Height

Weight

Career NHL GP

Nick Leddy

22

2009

16th

Left

5 ft 11

180 lb

205

Jared Spurgeon

24

2008

156th

Right

5 ft 9

185 lb

191

Marco Scandella

23

2008

55th

Left

6 ft 2

208 lb

115

Matt Dumba

19

2012

7th

Right

6 ft 0

183 lb

13

  • They're all in the same ballpark age-wise. Dumba is obviously the youngest and is only just starting his career, but I decided to add him just to see how he measures-up against the others.


-Here is some info about how they are deployed in games:

Player

TOI/G

PP TOI/G

SH TOI/G

DZ St%

NZ St%

OZ St%

0/DSt%

Nick Leddy

16:31

2:01

0:02

23.9%

33.9%

42.2%

63.8%

Jared Spurgeon

21:07

2:16

2:08

34.5%

36.6%

28.9%

45.6%

Marco Scandella

17:50

0:18

1:29

40.0%

36.1%

23.9%

37.4%

Matt Dumba

12:26

1:39

0:02

26.6%

30.9%

42.6%

61.5%

  • The TOI numbers show that, compared to Spurgeon and Scandella, Leddy plays a smaller role for his team.
  • Leddy's zone-starts are very favourable as he starts 42.2% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Even rookie Matt Dumba has a higher percentage of defensive zone starts than him.
  • Scandella is the most-buried player in the league in terms of zone starts while Spurgeon isn't far behind. That's a clear sign that the coach trusts them in important defensive situations to minimise scoring chances and get the puck moving up the ice.


-Here are some of the scoring stats for these players:

Player

GP

G

1A

2A

PP

P

S/Sh%

PEN +/-

Nick Leddy

29

3

4

6

1

13

49/6.1%

0

Jared Spurgeon

29

1

4

3

1

8

44/2.3%

+1

Marco Scandella

26

0

3

3

0

6

36/0.0%

-3

Matt Dumba

13

1

0

1

1

2

12/8.3%

+1

  • Leddy is leading this group in scoring, though it must be taken into account that he plays for the Blackhawks, an offensive juggernaut, which makes it a bit more easy for a defenceman to score points.
  • Most of Leddy's assists are secondary. He has the same amount of primary assist as Spurgeon.
  • The shot totals and Sh% for Spurgeon and Scandella suggests they have been snakebitten and are due a rush of goals over the rest of the season  when their respective Sh% regress to the mean.

-Here are their underlying numbers at 5v5 Close:

Player

CF%

CF% Rel

CF/20

CA/20

iCorsi For/60

QoC Rel

Nick Leddy

57.0%

-1.6%

20.298

15.826

9.8

-0.803

Jared Spurgeon

54.2%

+2.3%

20.768

17.356

9.5

+0.769

Marco Scandella

53.2%

+1.7%

19.897

16.971

10.0

+0.553

Matt Dumba

55.0%

+5.1%

16.695

13.969

11.5

-0.04

  • While Leddy has the best Corsi For%, it must be taken into account that he plays on the best puck possession team in the league. The "Corsi Rel" numbers tell the real story. Leddy is driving Corsi at -1.6% relative to his teammates.
  • Spurgeon and Scandella are both over 50% in Corsi For% and also have positive numbers relative to their team while playing tougher compeition than Leddy.
  • Dumba's Corsi is very impressive, though in a much smaller sample.
  • Scandella and Dumba are both registering more shot attempts (iCorsi For) per 60 minutes than Leddy, which is remarkable considering the difference between Leddy and Scandella in terms of zone starts.
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So Leddy is playing extremely sheltered minutes and only doing okay in terms of puck possession so far this year. His offensive production is okay, but it's possible that some of it is down to the high-scoring style of hockey the Blackhawks play. His numbers are nothing to laugh at, but there is nothing there to suggest that he is the missing link that would have made the Wild into an elite team. Right now Spurgeon and Scandella are outplaying him in much tougher situations.

One thing Leddy has on his side is that he is only 22 and still has a lot more developing to do. Does he have a future as an elite offensive defenceman? Time will tell, but right now he looks pretty far away from that. The 2-year contract he signed in the Summer appears to be very much a "show me" deal so that the Blackhawks brass can decide whether or not he is part of their plans going forward.



-Check out this Player Usage Chart from HockeyAbstract.com which shows just how sheltered Leddy is and how Spurgeon and Scandella are posting better numbers in tougher minutes:

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These days, whenever someone brings up the Leddy trade, I don't really get upset about it because, looking at the Wild's defence right now, Leddy would probably be 4th or 5th on the depth chart, and that's not including Dumba, who is gonna be a shoe-in for a place in the top-4 in the near future. With the way the Wild defence is playing these days and with guys like Olofsson, Gunnarsson and Draeger in the pipeline looking to find a place on the team in the next few years, I'm failing to see the huge void left in the wake of the Leddy trade.

The trade is still bad, but it's not like the Wild gave-up Zdeno Chara or Joe Thornton or Phil Kessel, so can we stop acting like the Wild threw away a future franchise player? Leddy's gonna be a good NHL defenceman,but nothing worth freaking out about.

]

Follow me on Twitter for more hockey-ness.

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Noon Christmas Tune:

Seeing as we're now into December and Christmas is fast approaching, I'll be featuring a different Christmas song in each of the Noon Number's I write up until the big day. Your 2nd song of the month is this classic from Paul McCartney. There's something strangely warm and Christmassy about those lumpy 70's synths:


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