Ex-Gopher Nick Leddy set to face hometown team in NHL playoffs


Mar 16, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy (8) defends against the Dallas Stars attack during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy would be graduating from the University of Minnesota in a few weeks had he not made the jump to the NHL in 2010.

Instead, the 16th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft is preparing for a first-round match-up against his hometown team and the team that drafted him — the Minnesota Wild.

Leddy, 22, has already appeared in 176 career games and is quickly making a name for himself as one of the league’s youngest and most talented defensemen.

The former Minnesota Mr. Hockey as a member of the Eden Prairie High School Eagles, Leddy only played one season with the Gophers. He suffered a broken jaw in a game against Alaska-Anchorage that forced him to miss a handful of games and unfortunately that lone season would be all Gopher fans would see of the potential future NHL All-Star.

Despite being drafted by the Wild, Leddy never played a minute in a Wild jersey. He was traded to the Blackhawks in 2010 before his professional career started. In exchange for Leddy and another player, the Blackhawks sent over Cam Barker, who had two unproductive seasons with the Wild. Barker is currently a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Leddy’s trade remains a sore spot for Wild and Minnesota hockey fans in general. On May 5, Leddy will return to the Xcel Energy Center in game three of the best-of-seven series between the eighth seed Wild and number one overall seed Blackhawks. This will be the first time Leddy has returned to St. Paul in a playoff atmosphere since leading his high school team to a state championship in 2009.

Whether fans cheer his return come next Sunday or treat him as an enemy combatant will be interesting. But as a native-Minnesotan that was traded by his hometown team, Leddy is seemingly the one on top looking down.

Follow Gold and Gopher on Twitter | Follow Frank Bi on Twitter