The Washington Capitals got an intriguing player in the second round. The team selected 6’4” right wing Brett Leason with the 56th overall pick.
Unlike nearly all the other high draft picks, Leason is not 18. He’s 20-years-old. Usually, that’s a concerning sign for a prospect as they’re two years behind their peers, but for the late-blooming Leason, he’s turned himself into a high-end prospect after finding his game with the Prince Albert Raiders.
For his dedication to the sport of hockey, Leason was announced the winner of the 2019 E.J. McGuire Award Of Excellence before Day Two of the draft started on Saturday. The past recipients include the 2017-18 Humboldt Broncos (2018), Nico Hischier (2017), Neil Doef (2016), and Travis Konecny (2015).
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) June 22, 2019
“That was a very special moment,” Leason said after being picked by the Capitals. “It’s a very prestigious award. To get it is amazing. I’ll remember that.
He added that “the third time through (the draft), I was hoping my name would be picked and it finally happened.”
Sportsnet analysts called Leason a steal at where the Capitals got him.
“I don’t think there’s any question [he’s a steal],” they said. “There’s rawness in him even though he’s a 20-year-old. So here’s the story with this guy. Taken in the third round by Tri-City a couple of years ago, in his first 12 games last year, he had one goal. Prince Albert went out and acquired him. In the final 54 games of the season, he put up 32 points. And then he realizes, ‘you know what? I might not be bad at this thing.’ So he decides to train a little bit. He’s doing his landscaping job, working on his skating, he gets points in his first 30 games. He makes Canada’s World Junior team. All of a sudden, they’re like ‘who is this dude?’
“Well, he’s a guy that a lot of people expected to be that guy when Tri-City took him in the third round. And now he’s a guy who is unstoppable. Dominant at certain points this year. The thing about being a right-shot guy, he’s really good at disrupting the breakout. He strips puck. There is a bit of a Mark Stone comparison when it comes to Brett Leason.”
Leason believed he was given the award because of “my story how my first two years, I didn’t really get a chance. I just kind of persevered, battled through it, and just never gave up the game. I committed every single day and tried to get better. And it turned into [what it did].
“It was definitely hard. I kind of stuck to it. I just continued pushing a lot. Hockey is the sport I love and I want to keep playing it.”
After having 19 points in his first two seasons with Tri-City, Leason had 89 points in 55 regular season games last year and added 25 points in 22 games in the loffs. He also played for Team Canada in the World Junior Championship, scoring five points in five games.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 22, 2019
More from the NHL:
VANCOUVER (June 22, 2019) – Brett Leason, the 25th ranked North American skater for the 2019 NHL Draft™ presented by adidas, has been awarded the annual E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence, the National Hockey League announced today.
First awarded in 2015, the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence is presented annually by the League to a candidate who best exemplifies commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness, and athleticism.
In 2018-19, the Calgary, Alta. native led Prince Albert in scoring in both the regular season (36-53—89 in 55 GP) and playoffs (10-15—25 in 22 GP) to propel the Raiders to the franchise’s first Western Hockey League championship since 1985-86. Leason, a 6’4” right wing, also represented Team Canada this season at the 2019 World Junior Championships (3-2—5 in 5 GP).
“Brett Leason has displayed passion, perseverance and commitment to better himself and in doing so he’s represented the core attributes of the E.J. McGuire award,” said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. “He has showed strength of character by continuing to work hard to pursue his goals, utilize his skills and physical assets as well as improve his skating after going undrafted and being traded early in his WHL career.”
B.J. MacDonald, Vancouver Canucks alumni and longtime scout alongside E.J. McGuire with NHL Central Scouting, will present Leason with an engraved NHL crystal immediately following Club roll call at Rogers Arena (approximately 10 a.m. PT) on Saturday.
After many years of coaching and scouting at various levels of hockey, McGuire joined the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau in 2002 and assumed day-to-day responsibility for the department in 2005. McGuire spearheaded an operation that provided scouting and evaluation of draft-eligible players to NHL Member Clubs. He led a team of eight full-time and 15 part-time scouts throughout North America. Just as he brought innovation to the coaching profession throughout his career, McGuire was responsible for several advancements in the area of scouting during his nine years at the League, including the development of a new scouting technology system that brought the “art” of scouting to a whole new level. He was instrumental in raising both the effectiveness and profile of the League’s annual scouting combine. McGuire lost his short, but courageous battle with cancer in April 2011.
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