Nick Leddy of the New York Islanders celebrates his first-period...

Nick Leddy of the New York Islanders celebrates his first-period goal against the Colorado Avalanche at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Uniondale. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jack Capuano knew that Nick Leddy had it in him to play the way he has for the Islanders. Leddy knew it, too.

Now, the NHL seems to know that Leddy, still only 23, is capable of playing top-pair minutes and producing well.

"I've been following him since he started in the U.S. hockey pipeline. You've always been able to see the skating ability, the elusiveness," Capuano said. "They have a deep blue line in Chicago, obviously. The way he's been able to read plays here and get himself into the rush, generate chances, you can see the elite skill level he has."

Leddy scored his fifth goal in Friday's 5-4 shootout win over the Penguins. That's tied for fourth among all NHL defensemen, alongside Norris Trophy contenders like P.K. Subban and Brent Seabrook. Leddy's career high is seven goals, set in 82 games last season.

Leddy is averaging 19:28 per game through 19 games with the Islanders, markedly higher ice time than he got in his last two seasons in Chicago, when he averaged 16:22 and 17:23 per, with a healthy amount of that time coming on the power play.

So, with his even-strength ice time up to 16:44 per game from 14:19 a season ago, he's got more opportunities to show his skills. And more chances to learn the hard part for a 6-foot, 194-pound defenseman, which is to play smart around his net.

"He can use that speed to get good position and use his stick to break up chances off the rush, and he's done that," Capuano said. "Where we're working with him is around the net, the physical side. When you're out there against the other team's top forwards, they're usually big and skilled."

Leddy, who did average 22:03 in his second season with the Hawks in 2011-12, said his outlook hasn't changed. "I think the confidence has always been there," he said. "I wasn't getting as much PK time in Chicago with the guys they had. But it's a matter of knowing the situation in the game, knowing the right time to jump up in the play and being smart about it."

The next item on the list for Leddy is a new contract. His two-year, $5.4 million deal expires at the end of the season; the Isles hold his rights for the next two years before he can become an unrestricted free agent.

Neil Sheehy, Leddy's agent, told Newsday in an e-mail that he will be on Long Island next week to meet with Leddy and his other Isles clients, Lubomir Visnovsky and Anders Lee. Sheehy said he'll be initiating discussions with Leddy about what they'll be looking for in a new deal, but it's certain that general manager Garth Snow and the Islanders want to lock Leddy up long term.

Considering how Leddy's played, that should be music to Islanders fans' ears.

Boychuk not ready to talk deal

The Islanders' other headline acquisition from Super Saturday prior to the season beginning, Johnny Boychuk, also has an expiring contract and plenty of love from his new team. But his situation is obviously different than Nick Leddy's, since Boychuk is a pending UFA and would be the biggest attraction on the open market once July 1 comes around.

That fact alone could mean Boychuk won't want to talk contract until after the season. But the Islanders defenseman has more personal reasons for wanting to wait.

"I just want to see how my family is going to like it down here," Boychuk said. His wife and twin 11-month-old daughters only moved from Boston a month ago. "It's all very different to me."

The 30-year-old Boychuk, much like Leddy, has thrived in a role that's bigger than the one he had with the Bruins, where his best season was 23 points last season. He had 12 in 18 games entering Saturday's game with the Penguins.

By the numbers

Entering Saturday's games, the Islanders were at or near the top of the league in a few interesting subcategories. Most notable for this team was their record when leading after two periods: 7-0-0.

That's a sharp contrast to last season, as sharp as one can get. The Isles were 15-6-6 when leading after two, the 12 losses being the most of any team in the league.

They did lead the NHL in 2013-14 with 10 wins when trailing after two periods. This season, the Islanders are 1-4-0 when trailing after 40 minutes.