Leddy signs with Blackhawks

John Hageman

 Nick Leddy, a freshman last season for the Minnesota men’s hockey team, has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to the Star Tribune. 

Leddy was the rookie of the year for the Gophers last season after leading the team with a plus-6 rating. He also tallied three goals and eight assists in 30 games as a member of the Gophers’ top defensive line.

The 19-year old from Eden Prairie was the No. 16 overall pick by the Minnesota Wild in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but was traded to the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks in a three-player deal that sent Cam Barker to Minnesota in February. Leddy participated in Chicago’s prospect camp in mid-July along with future Gopher Justin Holl, who was the 54th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

"Nick Leddy was excellent," Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman said after seeing him at the camp, according to the Star Tribune. "Boy, he’s really smooth out there. I think he’s going to be with the Blackhawks for many years."

Leddy will likely spend some time with the team’s top affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, before making the jump to the big time. Leddy’s agent told the Chicago Tribune that his three-year deal is worth $2.7 million.

The news comes on the same day as the announcement of Josh Birkholz’s departure from the team after violating team rules. Leddy is also the second player to leave the team this offseason for the pros before graduating, as Jordan Schroeder signed with the Vancouver Canucks three days after completing his sophomore campaign in March.

"A lot of the kids, when you draft them, are just turning 18, and they’re nowhere near ready to play in the NHL," former Gophers and North Stars head coach Glen Sonmor said after the draft in June. "For some of them, the best thing they can do is play at least most of their college career and maybe all of it before they go and try to see where they’re going to fit in with the pros. But sometimes they get a little anxious, or their agent gets a little anxious, and they want to get their hands on some money so they sign earlier."