Stan Bowman might never make a better trade as long as he is general manager of the Blackhawks.
It was on Feb. 12, 2010, that Bowman, searching for veteran depth on defense for the Hawks’ Stanley Cup run, dealt defenseman Cam Barker to Minnesota for veteran defenseman Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy, who was the Wild’s first-round draft pick (16th overall) in 2009.
The Wild agreed to include Leddy thinking they were getting a top defenseman back in Barker, who was the third pick in the 2004 draft behind Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
Leddy has become a standout on the Hawks’ blue line while Johnsson and Barker both flamed out. Johnsson suffered a concussion early in his Hawks career and later retired.
Leddy was born on Eden Prairie, Minn., and was a local high school star and Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey as a senior, so the trade by his hometown team came as a shock to him.
“It was actually a game day, so I didn’t have too much time to think about it,” said Leddy, who was in Denver getting ready to play for the University of Minnesota.
“It was kind of a shock because I always turn off my phone at the pregame meal and when I turned it back on I had a couple voice mails and a couple texts. My buddy actually asked me if I had been traded and I said, ‘What? What are you talking about?’”
The trade has turned out to be a great thing for Leddy. “This is my team now,” he said.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t have much recollection of the trade.
“I can only say I don’t know of any of the discussions that went into the deal,” Quenneville said. “We like his development and growth. I think this year he took a big step forward in how he’s defended.
“He has improved that area of his game, and offensively he is consistently improving recognizing when to go.”
No room for error:
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo can read the numbers and see what the Hawks have done and how much of a heavy favorite they are to win the series.
“It’s pretty simple: We’ve got to be great at every aspect of our game and every player on our team,” Yeo said. “The depth of their lineup, the strength of the game in all situations, there’s no room for error on our part.
“That’s obviously a tough challenge, but at the same time we’d like to think that when we’ve been faced with those situations and when we’ve gone up against teams like that it’s helped to sharpen our focus.”
The Wild played Game 1 without right winger Jason Pominville, who has been out since April 23 with a concussion.
“He’s just not quite ready,” Yeo said. “This is a big game, but you’ve got to look at the big picture and we’ve got to make sure that when we get him back in, we get him back in for good.”
The Wild had nine players making their playoff debuts Tuesday, including 19-year-old defenseman Jonas Brodin, one of the stronger rookie-of-the-year candidates.
Brodin averaged 23:12 of ice time paired mostly with Ryan Suter.
“Nice player,” Joel Quenneville said. “You’ve got to commend him on establishing himself right off the bat, playing meaningful minutes against top players. He’s got a real good feel for the game.”
Going with experience:
With Ray Emery unable to play Tuesday because of a groin injury, Henrik Karlsson and not Carter Hutton backed up Corey Crawford for the Hawks.
“We made a decision, and he’s got some experience,” Joel Quenneville said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.