NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One down, one to go.
The Islanders locked up a key piece of their defense corps on Tuesday, announcing that they had reached agreement with Nick Leddy on a multi-year contract extension.
Leddy, who is just 23 but was scheduled to be a restricted free agent at season’s end, will reportedly receive $38.5 million over the next seven years, for an average annual value of $5.5 million.
“Nick has proven to be an elite defenseman in this league at a young age,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “He’s the type of player on the ice, in the locker room and in the community that we’re thrilled to add as a cornerstone of our defensive core.”
Acquired from Chicago for three prospects a week before the regular season started, Leddy has been a stabilizing force on the Isles’ blue line, excelling at both ends of the ice. A solid puck mover, Leddy is a tremendous skater with the type of game that may one day put him into Norris Trophy discussions.
Leddy has 25 points, including 17 assists, and a plus-12 rating in 61 games for the Islanders (39-20-2), who entered Tuesday’s game against visiting Arizona in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
“We have something special in this locker room and I’m excited to be a part of it for seven more years,” Leddy said. “From the start of my time here, the Islanders have been a first-class organization. I’m honored by their commitment to me and look forward to challenging for the Stanley Cup for years to come.”
Now in his fifth NHL season, Leddy won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks during the 2012-13 season. He has 28 goals, 90 assists and a plus-22 rating in 319 career regular season games.
The next order of business for Snow is to lock up Leddy’s pairing partner, Johnny Boychuk. The Islanders acquired Boychuk from Boston on the same day they traded for Leddy, giving up a pair of second round draft picks and a conditional third rounder. The 31-year-old defenseman has not disappointed, becoming a physical and responsible presence in his own end, while establishing a career high with 28 points in 51 games.
The problem the Isles face is they have no leverage with Boychuk, who will be an unrestricted free agent following this season. Various NHL insiders have said the veteran defenseman will likely be one of the top players available this summer, which may be why he has yet to come to terms with New York.
If the Isles are unable to sign Boychuk long term, they have plenty of NHL-ready defensemen in their system, including former first round picks Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock.