Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2019 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at forward Brett Leason.
It’s rare to see a player passed over in a previous draft be ranked as a first-round prospect. Brett Leason is even rarer as he’s been passed over twice. In fact, Tanner Pearson is the only CHL player passed over in two NHL drafts to be drafted in the first round in a future year. However, Leason is having an extremely rare season. He put up 36 goals and 53 assists for 89 points in 55 games. His work helped lead the Prince Albert Raiders to the top record in the WHL. He has also added five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 14 playoff games, as the Raiders are looking to win the league title and advance to the Memorial Cup.
Leason’s strong year also got the attention of Hockey Canada. He was named to Canada’s World Junior Squad, putting up five points in five games. Unfortunately, Leason and the rest of the Canadian Team suffered an early exit in this past year’s tournament.
Brett Leason Scouting Report
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born April 30th, 1999 — Calgary, Alberta
Height 6’4″ — Weight 201 lbs [193 cm / 91 kg]
Once considered the biggest liability in his game, Leason made real improvements in his skating over the off-season. This has been a big reason that he has been able to put it all together this year. While he will never be confused for a speedster, Leason has improved to the point that he no longer has issues keeping up with the play. His top-end speed and acceleration are decent. However, he can still get quicker in his first few steps. Improved edge work has given Leason better agility and the ability to make quicker cuts, helping him to make plays with the puck. He is strong on his skates and has good balance. This makes Leason tough to knock off the puck as well as helping him to battle for loose pucks.
Leason has good size and plays a power game. He is willing to battle along the boards as well as establish his position in the front of the net. Once he gets there, he is able to score goals. Leason has a good wrist shot and a quick release. He also adds a strong backhand, with the ability to elevate the puck in tight spaces. Leason also has soft hands, with the ability to get tip-ins, pounce on rebounds, and make plays in tight to the net. He has a knack for getting open without the puck, putting himself in good positions to take a pass from a teammate and convert it into a scoring chance.
Leason can also play the role of playmaker. He has good vision and passing skills, finding open teammates in the offensive zone. Leason extends plays giving his teammates time to get open. He uses his size and strength to protect the puck in the cycle game and control the play below the hash-marks. Leason uses his long reach and soft hands to stickhandle and keep the puck away from defenders. He is also effective on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and forcing turnovers.
Leason is willing to play his powerful and gritty game in all three zones. He helps the defence, supporting them down low and working effectively on the boards. Leason’s high hockey IQ is also apparent in his own end, as he anticipates plays and cuts down passing lanes. His long stick also helps him to do this and he is effective at creating turnovers and transitioning them into offensive opportunities. Leason is not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots when needed.
Projection and Comparison
Leason is a classic late-bloomer. Improvements in his skating and the fact that he has finally gotten regular top-line ice time seem to suggest that this is not just an aberration but a real indication of his potential. Leason could develop into a second or third line winger in the NHL. His size and willingness to use it to play a physical game in all three zones will make him a coach’s favourite at any level. One advantage with Leason is that he will be eligible to play in the AHL next season and that he could be ready for NHL action quicker than the typical 18-year-old draftee. Leason’s game is reminiscent of Matthew Tkachuk. This is a stylistic comparison though and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Brett Leason that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
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