Defenseman Nick Leddy had arguably his most effective postseason performance in the Islanders’ series-clinching Game 6 win over the Bruins Wednesday night.
Not only did he earn the assist on Brock Nelson’s go-ahead tally in the second period, but he was more responsible with the puck and had a hand in a few clean transitions into the Bruins’ zone. Leddy also made an impressive diving play in front of Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov to break up a Boston rush in the first period.
The 30-year-old blocked three shots, including one in the second period when the Isles lost possession in their zone. As Boston shifted the puck around the zone to a wide-open Craig Smith in the left faceoff circle, Leddy dove in front to negate the shot.
“I thought he was really, really solid,” head coach Barry Trotz said of Leddy after the win. “He made a great play on a two-on-one. He skated, I thought he was firm. When Nick is skating and he’s firm like that, he’s a difference-maker.”
Leddy is a player of interest for the Islanders because he is seemingly one of the most logical options for general manager Lou Lamoriello to expose to the Seattle Kraken expansion draft set for July 21.
As a high-skilled, veteran defenseman, who is in the sixth of a seven-year, $38.5 million contract with a cap hit of $5.5 million, Leddy could be an enticing option for a franchise building from the ground up.
It’s no secret that Trotz is high on Leddy, who has logged the third-most minutes this postseason behind top-pair defensemen Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. From an organizational standpoint, left-handed defensemen prospects Samuel Bolduc and Robin Salo are still developing. And if Andy Greene doesn’t return after his one-year deal expires this offseason, the Isles’ left side is rather depleted.
“I think like any playoffs, it’s been some ups and downs,” Leddy said Friday in response to how he’d evaluate himself this postseason so far. “At the end of the day, you do whatever you can to help the team win. I think it’s kind of a cliché, but it is true. You really do whatever you can to help the team win and that’s the number one goal.”