New Red Wing Nick Leddy excited to add veteran presence to lineup

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Nick Leddy knows he has something to offer the Red Wings, and it's a valuable asset.

"A veteran presence," said Leddy, 30, who the Wings acquired Friday from the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Richard Panik, a second-round draft pick in next week's draft, and retaining half of Panik's $2.7 million salary ($1.375 million) and salary cap hit.

"It's a younger team, obviously, and I've been fortunate enough to be with some winning cultures. I really want to bring that to the Red Wings. I'm just excited for the opportunity.

"I'm just here to do my best every day and whether it's teaching younger guys or learning from them. For me, seeing a guy like Noah Dobson (a young Islanders defenseman) last year, so to take a younger guy under my wing is something I've tried to do and leading on the ice by example is kind of what I've been all about."

During his seven seasons with the Islanders, Nick Leddy tallied 45 goals and 198 assists in 518 games.

There's a good chance the Wings had some sort of veteran tutelage in my mind when they acquired Leddy, who could be a defensive partner for prospect Moritz Seider.

Leddy's offensive, mobile game on the ice could blend well with Seider, and Leddy has had similar roles with the Islanders.

"I haven't seen much of him, but I would definitely look forward to mentoring him and teach him what I can," Leddy said Sunday on a Zoom call with reporters. "I'm excited to learn from him, too."

An 11-year pro, Leddy spent his first four years in Chicago and the last seven with the Islanders. Leddy played all 56 games in the shortened, compressed season this year with two goals, 29 assists and a minus-3 rating. In the playoffs, Leddy played 19 games with six assists and a plus-2 rating.

Leddy was a steady part of the Islanders' lineup, especially the last two seasons as they reached the Final Four of the NHL before being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning both times.

But with salary cap constraints, a need to shed salary and protected list issues with the expansion draft, Leddy was a good bet to leave Long Island.

"When you get traded it's a shock," Leddy said. "But it's the uncertainty that's the worst part for me and honestly anyone in this situation. But it's a business and it's just kind of how it goes sometimes.

"It doesn't change my approach (coming to a rebuilding Red Wings team). It's just all about winning games and I'm here to do to that."

The Islanders' power play was 20th last season (18.8%), noticeably better than the Wings' anemic attack (30th, 11.4%). One of Leddy's attributes is the ability to run a power play, and he feels he can help that part of the Wings' game.

"That's definitely a goal," Leddy said. "Wherever I can help, trying to elevate things or a certain style, definitely."

Leddy has one year left on his contract with a $5.5 million salary cap hit, the final season of a seven-year, $38.5 million deal. If the Wings fall out of the playoff picture, there's a good chance Leddy could become bait at the trade deadline and the Wings could recoup, at least, the draft pick they gave the Islanders.

But that's a long way in the future, and for now, Leddy is eager for the new start in his hockey life.

Leddy played with forward Frans Nielsen and goaltender Thomas Greiss when those two current Wings were also Islanders, and Leddy has gotten to know Dylan Larkin over the years.

"Nothing but good things," Leddy said, when asked what Nielsen and Greiss told him about the Wings' organization. "They texted me the day I got traded, Friday, and they said nothing but great things about the organization. The big thing was just welcoming me. This is a change, but I'm excited to be here and I'm really looking forward to this opportunity."

Twitter: @tkulfan