ST. LOUIS– With the New York Islanders in the Gateway to the West, they have a chance to reconnect with two former teammates in Nick Leddy and Thomas Greiss.
Both were integral parts in the New York Islanders turning things around as a franchise, as Nick Leddy led on the backend, while Thomas Greiss was a stable presence in goal, something that had been missing from the organization.
“I think both of them did a really good job here,” New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield said. “When they came, especially Leddy, I think it was not the best time for the Islanders, and they kind of brought us more to winning hockey. They built a foundation that now we’re trying to keep going, so they’re two special players to this organization, two good buddies, and fun to play.”
Before the start of the 2014-15 season, then New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow sent defencemen T.J. Brennan and Ville Pokka and the rights to restricted free-agent goaltender Anders Nilsson to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for 23-year-old defenseman Nick Leddy.
Nick Leddy then signed a seven-year contract worth 38.5 million.
Leddy had already won two Stanley Cups with Chicago and was brought in, along with 2011 Stanley Cup winner Johnny Boychuk from the Boston Bruins to help change the culture on the island.
The skating wizard spent seven seasons as a member of the New York Islanders, skating in 518 games with 45 goals and 198 assists.
While with New York, he helped them to six playoff berths in the seven seasons, notching five goals and 18 assists in 67 games.
In a salary-cap clearing move in the summer of 2021, Leddy was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings for Richard Panik at 50 percent salary retained. Panik has since been reassigned.
Detroit then flipped Leddy at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline to St. Louis, and this summer, the Minnesota native signed a four-year, $16 million extension.
“Nick was one of my one of my good buddies and will always be a great buddy of mine,” former New York Islanders defenseman, and now analyst Thomas Hickey shared. “As good as he was on the ice, he’s a similar guy off the ice…and when you talk about on the ice, no one has that skating ability to get the puck out of trouble.”
“I think everyone wishes they could move as well as deke, but I think his skating abilities are missed by any team that doesn’t have him, but he’s a guy that was sort of everyone’s favorite teammate because he was always in a good mood soft-spoken, always smiling and looking to chat.”
“One of the best skaters I’ve ever seen. Basically, breaks the puck out by himself, you know, nine times out of 10,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “Just one of the best teammates you can ever ask for.”
“Leddy’s a really quality person. Great player, obviously, with his skating and the way he sees the game, and one of those guys would be lifelong friends with for sure,” Bailey said.
Despite not starting Thursday night against the New York Islanders, they will get the chance to see their old teammate Thomas Greiss.
As a member of the Islanders over his five years on Long Island, Thomas Greiss posted a 915 SV% with a 2.70 GAA and 10 shutouts in 193 appearances. In 16 postseason games, Greiss owned a .921 SV% with a 2.41 GAA.
He currently ranks fifth in New York Islanders history with 193 games played and 101 wins.
Before the start of the 2015-16 season, Greiss and the New York Islanders agreed on a two-year deal worth $3 million. Following the 2016-2017 season, the Islanders retained Greiss’s skill set as he signed a three-year deal worth $10 million.
In the summer of 2020, Greiss joined the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings, spending two seasons there before signing a one-year, $1.5 M deal with St. Louis.
“Greiss was a great teammate. He was a real funny guy,” New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal said last season. “Funny when we played soccer, he’d always have a little funny comment, and even loved having him after practice and whatnot. He took a lot of shots and took a lot of breakaways. The guy’s very unorthodox and that kind of setting, so it was really fun having to come up with new stuff, to try to beat him in different ways.”
“So you know, Greiss was a great teammate.”
Because of Ilya Sorokin’s arrival, Thomas Greiss knew his time with the Islanders was ending following that playoff run. But even though his replacement had joined the Islanders in the bubble, Greiss still helped show Sorokin the ropes.
After a few strong seasons as a stable NHL backup, Greiss and the New York Islanders agreed on a two-year deal worth $3 million. Following the 2016-2017 season, the Islanders retained Greiss’s skill set as he signed a three-year deal worth $10 million.
The New York Islanders were a team on the rise. The summer prior, they acquired Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to provide some veteran leadership and help create a winning culture, and it paid off as the Islanders made the postseason.
Over the next five years, Greiss’s stability helped the Islanders grow from a borderline playoff team to a Stanley Cup contender.
“He was the perfect backup goalie,” Hickey said. “He was more than that because he played a bigger role than just a backup. He was an instrumental part of winning playoff series. You look at that year in the bubble. He came in and could win big games. But outside of that, he was a fun guy, and I think it’s a skill as a goalie to have the demeanor to be the backup and be the guy that stays out with everyone and takes extra shots, and guys always appreciated that. You could never get Thomas in a bad mood.”
“He’s always had a sense of humor, and I think that’s why he’s stuck around.”
“Greiss was quite the personality. But he was really good for us,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “He was a stabilizing force, and when he went into games, he played really well for us. [He had] kind of an awkward style, so really kept teams on their toes.”
Islanders forward Josh Bailey mimicked those sentiments.
“Greiss was one of those guys that you know, typically when he was here, he was a “1B” if not “2 role” and one of those guys you could always rely on when he came in there to make a big save and have a big game.”