<
>

Leddy looking like a top-four defenseman

10/3/2010

First it was Igor Makarov, then Jeremy Morin stole headlines, but training camp ends with rookie defenseman Nick Leddy the talk of the team.

He had a chance to make the opening night roster before Brian Campbell’s injury, now, he is a lock. Sunday night at the United Center further solidified that belief.

“Leddy continued to have another big game for us,” Joel Quenneville beamed after the Hawks 4-3 win over St. Louis. “He looked good again back there. We like his instincts and how he moved.”

Leddy, paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson, played 19 minutes, 2 seconds. That was third amongst defenseman. Even more than his partner.

“He’s a skilled guy that knows what he’s doing out there,” Hjalmarsson said. “He can take care of himself. I don’t think he made a single mistake out there today.”

Barring an upset, Leddy should open the season with Hjalmarsson as one of the Hawks' top four defensemen. Quenneville already indicated with Nick Boynton suspended for Thursday’s game, Leddy, along with Jordan Hendry and John Scott will be in the lineup.

Again, barring a drastic change of minds, the Hawks will employ two 19-year-olds on opening night for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane debuted for them four years ago.

“It’s all about reminding them when they do positive things out there,” Toews said of helping the teenagers along. “I was lucky to play with a good group of older guys that were very helpful and really didn’t get on my back much. [I’ll] let them know they’re doing some good things out there.”

Another sign of Quenneville’s confidence in Leddy is his time on the penalty-killing unit. Leddy spent nearly two minutes on Sunday killing Blues penalties and Quenneville liked what he saw.

“I think he plays PK [penalty killing] like he plays five on five defensively,” Quenneville said. “His reads and his anticipation really complement his quickness. PK is even more about anticipation and reads.”

Morin might fly under the radar as part of a 12-man forward group, but Leddy will be in the spotlight from day one. Its believed defense is the toughest and takes the longest to learn but if the preseason is any indication, the former collegian might just be ahead of the curve.

“I would tell him to keep doing what he’s doing,” Hjalmarsson said. “He’s pretty good already.”

Hard to argue with that.