Let’s go for a twofer today, and ramp up the importance. It’s one thing to go through your bottom pairing platoon, who in the end you’d rather just not notice. But these guys matter, and may matter in other ways this offseason. So let’s do it.
Regular Season: 82 games, 7 goals, 24 assists, 31 points, +10, -0.02 Behind The Net, 14.86 Corsi/60 (+3.4 Corsi Relative/60)
Playoffs: 18 games, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, -3, -1.66 Behind The Net, 3.39 Corsi/60 (+8.3 Corsi Relative/60)
What We Liked: It’s a well known fact at this point that me and Jen LC have a huge Leddy crush. Those numbers in the regular season came with three rotating partners (rotating pies!) all season. Though they also came with pretty heavily tilted zone starts, as Leds started 63% of his shifts in the offensive zone. But for most of the year, Leddy was a possession driver, a one-man trap-buster who really started to feel his oats in the middle of the year by pushing with his wheels up the ice. Outside of Kane doing Kane things, there are few more exciting moments watching the Hawks than when Leddy kicks it into gear through the zone. His four power play goals were more than Keith’s, even though Leddy ran the second unit and got less time despite being the superior PP QB. Oh, and that goal in Game 2 against LA… it portends to so much.
What We Didn’t Like: Except it won’t portend to that much if Leddy doesn’t push it as regularly as he needs to. While he got more blame in the playoffs than he probably deserved, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t ugly at times. In big moments, Leddy still tends to shrink from them. He needs to play assertive and confident, borderline cocky, but he can still be tentative. And it’s probably too easy of an out to blame it on rotating and inconsistent partners alone. You’d figure most teams would kill for 31 points from a bottom pairing defensemen, and yet you can’t help but feel Leddy is capable of more. With his hands and accurate shot, does seven goals seem like enough? You feel he could crack double digits from the back, and probably should. Leddy doesn’t need to turn into Keith, but he’s never going to shake the comparison to Brian Campbell as those are the keys he was given. Campbell eventually grew into a very dependable d-man, and his mistakes were always one of over-aggressiveness. That’s what I’d rather out of Leddy. I don’t mind fuck-ups, as long as they’re in the name of trying to make something happen because that’s the type of player he is.
What Is It, You Would Say, You Do Here: Next year is obviously huge for Driver 8. While there have been some whispers that he could be had in a trade, I’d be utterly shocked if Stan is going to move his very first acquisition. This is the last year of his bridge deal coming up, and because of what might happen to a d-man ahead of him on the depth chart, he’s going to get second pairing time, you’d have to believe. Which means more responsibility but more time with the big boy forwards. He may even get the keys to the 1st PP unit if there’s any interest in conserving Keith’s minutes. But he simply has to show the belief that he can take games by the neck and control them. I still think it’s in there, and there are flashes of it. It’s hard to believe Leddy is still only 23 and there’s plenty of time for growth. It took Campbell two full seasons in the NHL, and three in the AHL, before he became what he became. Leddy has only gotten about two half-seasons in the A, and just finished his second full season in the NHL with a season-in-a-can to boot. Next year, the time will be now. I think he comes good, but there’s a valid argument that he won’t.
Regular Season: 77 games, 3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points, +11, -o.o6 Behind The Net, 6.23 Corsi/60 (-9.9 Corsi Relative/60)
Playoffs: 19 games, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, -1, 0.0 Behind the Net, -5.60 Corsi/60 (-5.3 Corsi Relative/60)
What We Liked: While he didn’t hit the heights of last year, you couldn’t ask for much more of a solid effort than the Hawks got from Bangkok Dangerous for most of the year. It looks even more solid when you consider he and Hammer got the worst zone starts on the team while also facing the hardest competition. That’s a big reason their possession numbers are off, because it’s hard to have the puck more when you’re facing the other team’s best. Oduya doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but he doesn’t do anything badly either. Even with all those obstacles, Oduya had the lowest goals-against per 60 minutes on-ice on the team’s blue line.
What We Didn’t Like: It’s not really his fault, but the toll of a full season and a full run in the Olympics eventually caught up to O.D. The Blues series saw a return to 2012 playoff form, where he was a turnover machine. Things didn’t improve much in the second round, and eventually Oduya was rotated to play with Rozsival in the third round. He looked a half-step slower, which is a problem for a d-man whose feet are one of his strengths. When that’s combined with his turnovers, Oduya can’t really transition the play up the ice, which he did last year. The Hawks need that drive from the back, and when they don’t get it their possession ways kind of collapse.
What Is It, You Would Say, You Do Here: With Oduya, the emphasis is on “exit” in “exit interview.” Because he’s the most likely to go in the offseason. If there’s one thing that Stan has shown is that he’s loathe to let anyone walk for nothing, even if it only results in gobbling up more draft picks. Frolik was dealt a year early (Hawks could have used him this year). So was Bolland. Even players who wouldn’t contribute long term are moved for what can be harvested, such as Carcillo or Scott or whatever else. While Oduya would earn a reprieve if a bigger name is dealt to open up cap space, there still has to be room made for Stephen Johns and Rundblad. Rozsival isn’t likely going anywhere, and O.D. is on the wrong side of 30. The lack of sharpness that came into focus as the year went on is probably not going away. He could still get you a 2nd rounder and more at least, and the Hawks don’t have a 2nd round pick for this draft at the moment. It’s simple math.