Nick Leddy-Dylan Olsen pair is Blackhawks’ next big thing
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com March 31, 2012 11:18PM
Updated: May 2, 2012 8:30AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When the lockout ended, the Blackhawks introduced two young defensemen who would become pillars of their success for years.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were initiated together in 2005-06, growing and developing into two of the better defensemen in the league. The Hawks’ blue line has become defined by their play.
Now, the Hawks are doing something similar with 21-year-olds Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen, the organization’s top young blue-liners. Like Keith and Seabrook did, they have a running mate to develop with on the ice and connect with away from it.
“They’re doing great,” Seabrook said. “[Leddy] started last year and I thought he came in and really helped us out, and he’s continued his strong play this year. He’s been huge.
“[Olsen] came in during a tough part of our season in the middle of a losing streak, but he’s done well. At times, he’s been called to play against some tough lines, and I think he’s done a good job.”
Does it help coming up with a player on the blue line?
“I think so,” Seabrook said. “It’s just having somebody to talk to.”
Leddy and Olsen said exactly the same thing, despite not being asked about it.
“We hadn’t really gotten an opportunity to know each other too well before this,” Leddy said. “It’s good to know him. He’s another young guy and we can kind off feed off each another and talk about things. It helps out a lot.”
The biggest difference between the rise of each duo is that Keith and Seabrook were rookies in 2005-06. Leddy played 46 games last season, but Olsen just broke into the league this year, playing in his 25th consecutive game Saturday against the Nashville Predators.
But comparisons can be made. Leddy and Olsen are considered the future of the Hawks’ blue line just as Keith and Seabrook were, and all four have been relied in crucial roles early in their careers.
Like Keith, Leddy is a good skater with puck-moving and offensive skills. Similar to Seabrook, Olsen is a big, stay-at-home defender with a solid shot.
“To have a young guy like [Leddy] helps out a lot,” said Olsen, who has seen his role and minutes decrease since Johnny Oduya arrived. “It gives me someone to talk to and kind of read off of. He’s got over 100 games now. It helps me coming in here.”
While Leddy and Olsen have had growing pains, from turnovers to wrong reads, coach Joel Quenneville still shows confidence in them.
“They’ve played some key games for us, and they’ve gotten matchups against some top lines,” said Quenneville, who has yet to play them together. “They’ve done a good job at a big time in the year for us.”
The hope, of course, is that Leddy and Olsen can continue to be compared to Keith and Seabrook a few years from now.
“[Our arrival is] kind of like Duncs and Seabs,” Leddy said. “They were two young guys coming into the league together. I’m sure it was similar for them and they helped each other out [like us].”