Brendan Leipsic THW Close-Up:
Date of Birth: May 19, 1994
Place of Birth: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Ht: 5-9 Wt: 175 lbs
Position: Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2012
Every year, a handful of undersized major junior prospects head into draft season with tempered expectations. While the players themselves merely hope to be drafted, each National Hockey League club secretly hopes that they’ll find a diamond in the rough – a prospective Martin St. Louis or Theoren Fleury.
The actual results are far, far more variable than NHL teams would like to admit. Most smaller junior players transition towards becoming smaller pros and have to adapt to the grind of the big leagues. Most often than not, they turn out to be Scott Nichol types – feisty, aggressive players that make life hell for the opposition and stick in the NHL by doing that every night.
This year’s draft class is full of potential Scott Nichols, but one that could exceed expectations and have more of an offensive impact is Portland Winterhawks winger Brendan Leipsic. A product of the Portland program that seems to be churning out high-level NHL talent early year, Leipsic has shown tremendous offensive skill with the Winterhawks. In particular, he seems very adept at using his speed and deceptive strength to make life miserable for the opposition, especially on the power-play – this past season he boasted 10 power-play markers.
That said, Leipsic is still limited by a few factors. Most primarily, his size. He’s charitably listed by the WHL as 5-9 (NHL Central Scouting says he’s a half-inch shorter than that) and he’ll be hard-pressed to put on some size, lest he be crushed by big league blueliners. In addition, he’s had issues with consistency. As seen this season, he’ll sometimes go games (even weeks) without hitting the score-sheet. Then he’ll have a multi-point game and go silent for another game or two.
When Leipsic is playing his game to the best of his ability, though, he’s an asset to his club. He’s energetic, hitting everything that moves and providing space for his teammates to work. However, on occasion he can go a bit too far – as evidenced by his suspension this season for a hit on Mackenzie Royer. While his physicality is a pleasant surprise and an asset to his game, he’s got to figure out the time and place to do so, especially if he plans on having a long pro career. It’s unlikely his frame can withstand the constant abuse should he try to jump to the professional ranks without adapting his style a bit.
That said, Leipsic is an intriguing prospect. If he can successfully make the jump, his downside is Scott Nichol and his upside could be much higher. Few of the smaller players in the draft have the offensive skill and speed that he boasts. It’s just a matter of him putting things together.
“Brendan is an energy guy… When he’s emotionally and physically engaged in the game, he sets the bar for the rest of the guys.”
–Portland Winterhawks head coach and general manager Mike Johnston
Played on Team Western Canada in the 2011 Under-17 Challenge and racked up 5 points in 5 games. He also attended the selection camp for Team Canada’s entry at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka tournament, but suffered an injury.
Risk = 3/5 Reward = 4/5
Second line winger.
*See “THW Close-Up” section above.
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Game-to-game consistency
- Managing the physical aspect of his game
- Size and strength
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Forward – 7.5/10
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
A poor man’s Martin St. Louis or a Scott Nichol with more offensive skill.
Off The Iron (Interesting Notes):
- Ranked 114th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
- Drafted 112th overall by Portland in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.