Name: Nick Leddy
Team: Eden Prairie High School
Weight: 179 lbs.
2008-2009 stats: 25 games, 8 goals, 29 assists, 37 points
Like many prospects that come out of the Minnesota high school hockey ranks, Nick Leddy arrived on most people's radars for the NHL draft much later than some of the other top prospects. Much like fellow Minnesota high school defensemen before him like Jake Gardiner, Ryan McDonagh, and David Fischer, you weren't likely to find Leddy's name in mock drafts published years ahead of this draft. In fact, it wasn't until January when NHL Central Scouting published their mid-term rankings that the rest of the hockey world started realize what those in Minnesota already knew: Nick Leddy had the talent to be a first round NHL Draft pick.
Leddy first made the Eden Prairie Eagles varsity squad as a sophomore, drawing the interest of a number of colleges in his home state. The next fall, he decided to commit to the University of Minnesota over North Dakota. That summer, Leddy began to fill out a little more and started putting his amazing potential to use, becoming one of the best players in his age group across the entire country.
That summer, he was offered a spot on the US National Development Team, and had to decide between joining the team, and possibly winning a gold medal for his country, or returning to Eden Prairie to take one last shot at winning a state championships with his friends. Leddy ultimately decided that he wanted that shot at the state tournament, and returned to the high school ranks where was the state's most talented player. He capped off an amazing year by leading Eden Prairie to a state tournament title, and was named Minnesota's Mr. Hockey.
Leddy's biggest asset has always been his tremendous agility and skating ability. But this past year, he has really focused on becoming a more complete hockey player. His offseason training made him much stronger, allowing him to become a more physical presence, and to improve his shot from the point. He'll always be known as an offensive defenseman, but also knows how to take care of business in his own end.
Strengths: Skating, quickness
Needs to Improve: Strength, Defending better players
Links of Interest:
Eagles Upend Number One Jefferson-January 2009
Hockey's Future feature-February 2009
Leddy Turned Down Country for Eagles-March 2009
Hockey News Hot List-March 2009
Staying Home Paid Off for Leddy-NHL.com feature
2009 NHL Draft Prospects: Nick Leddy-Stanley Cup of Chowder June 2009
Leddy Sprouts Into State's Mr. Hockey-Star-Tribune March 2009
Leddy Commits to Minnesota-October 2007
July 17, 2008: "Nick Leddy(Minnesota recruit)-One of the best skating defenseman at the camp. Really starting to develop into an excellent player."
November 10, 2008: "Nick Leddy was probably the top prospect for this year's draft at the tournament. He had kind of a rough game on Saturday, but overall, looks to have a fantastic future. He should easily be the best player in the state this year."
November 18, 2008: "With Zach Budish's season-ending knee injury, Leddy became the heavy favorite to win [Mr. Hockey]. The Minnesota recruit should be the highest rated player in the state for the NHL Draft, and for good reason. His exceptional skating ability makes him a great defender and a constant offensive threat."
The Mr. Hockey Post-March 2009
By now, I think fans are used to defensemen from Minnesota coming out of nowhere to be a first round draft pick. Nick Leddy is that kid this year. He's got NHL-caliber skating ability that can't be taught, but more importantly, I think he qualifies as a high-character type of player. He's not a kid that coasts by on talent alone. He's shown an impressive commitment to constantly improve himself which should earn him a spot in the NHL some day. While he's a little smaller, I really like the comparison to New Jersey Devils defenseman Paul Martin. Leddy would be a very good pick in the later part of the first round of the draft.
Playing time may be hard to come by on a deep Gopher blueline next season, so it may take Leddy a little longer to prove he is ready for the pro game, but I could see him playing three years with Minnesota before taking a shot at cracking the roster of whichever team drafts him.