Nick Leddy, Chicago Blackhawks

Nick Leddy is one of the most underrated players on the Chicago Blackhawks and deserves recognition. The 22-year-old defenseman scored his fourth goal of the season on Tuesday on a power play goal in Nashville to avenge for that nasty loss to the Predators just a few weeks prior.  And, and capsule according to an interview with ESPN magazine, discount thumb both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane admitted that Leddy is the nicest guy on the team, shop and someone Kane would let date his sister. This is a guy who is genuine, scruffy and plays his heart out—which is exactly why he’s our HAM of the Week.

The 5’11”, 180 lbs. player, who hails from Eden Prairie, Minn., began his hockey career on his high school team. After netting two goals and 16 assists his sophomore year, he recorded six goals and 22 assists as a junior. In addition for recognition honors in Minnesota, the United States Hockey National Team Development Program acknowledged Leddy as one of the best young players in the nation. Entering his senior year, instead of joining the program, Leddy opted to stay on his high school team. He led the team to the 2009 Minnesota Class 2A State Championship for the first time, posting 12 goals and 33 assists during the regular season. Those numbers earned him the Minnesota “Mr. Hockey” award and the Metro Player of the Year by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Nick Leddy, http://www.bleacherreport.com

After high school, Leddy took his talents to the University of Minnesota. As a freshman, Leddy tallied three goals and eight assists for the Golden Gophers. He was named the team’s Rookie of the Year and entered the 2009 NHL Draft after just one season.

Hometown team Minnesota Wild drafted Leddy 16th overall, but was traded to the Blackhawks in exchange for Cam Barker in early 2010. Leddy played in his first NHL game in October 2010.

In between his rookie season, Leddy won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Championship, posting two assists in five contests.

Throughout his past three seasons, Leddy has been back and forth between the Hawks and the Rockford IceHogs. He recorded four goals and three assists in his rookie season. He was the only defenseman to play in all 82 games with the Hawks his sophomore season, in which he posted three regular season goals and 34 assists, and one goal and two assists in the 2012 playoff run.

Watch a baby-faced (and shirtless!) Leddy following the morning skate of his NHL debut back in 2010. What I would do to be in that position…

As a member of the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions, Leddy seems to have come a long way. And like former HAM of the Week Ben Smith, Leddy seems to have found a full-time place on the Hawks’ roster. He recently signed a two-year contract extension following the cup run.

 

With that confidence, the young blueliner is improving on the PK, which is ranked third in the NHL. Along with Blackhawks teammates Kane and Brandon Saad, our HAM of the Week also participated in Team USA’s Hockey camp this summer for the 2014 Sochi Olympics in February.

His boyish charm and scruff are the perfect mix for any girl. At the time of the Stanley Cup run, Leddy was dating Emily Marquis. But don’t hold your breath, divas—he still qualifies as a HAM of the Week.

His sense of humor is impeccable, especially his spot-on impression of Napoleon Dynamite (well, this entire video is amazing, but Leddy’s acting is great). Awards season is next month, and Leddy definitely deserves to be nominated for best lead actor in a short film.

Leddy has played in all 37 games of the season so far and he’s making amazing progress. Follow Leddy on Twitter at @ledpipe08 or his website for more musings on No. 8.

 

About the author: Hannah Gettleman is a native of the Northern Chicago suburbs. She received her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012 and attended every home Illini football game. Her love of Chicago sports comes from her dad, who has been in the same Fantasy Football league since she was six years old, and her mom, who plays in a 5-0 football pool. She’s also won the family March Madness pool four times in a row. An avid Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and Cubs fan, she’s excited to share her love of sports and cute guys as the newest HAM Hunter. When she’s not glued to the television on Sundays, Hannah follows the latest in entertainment and red carpet fashion, and makes delicious Betty Crocker brownies. You can follow her at @hgettle12.

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