2018-19 Team: Prince Albert Raiders (#27)
Date of Birth: April 30, 1999
Place of Birth: Calgary, Alberta
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 201 pounds
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 third-year eligible
- The Hockey Writers (Pike’s Picks): 28th (final)
- Future Considerations: 32nd (Spring)
- ISS: 24th (April)
- Bob McKenzie: not in top 15 (April; draft lottery update)
- Craig Button: 31st (March)
When the 2018-19 Western Hockey League season began, Prince Albert Raiders forward Brett Leason was likely hoping to impress National Hockey League clubs enough to earn a minor league contract. When the season ended, he had established himself as one of the top players in the entire league and a potential first round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Leason’s path to the first round was a rare one. His 16-year-old season was spent entirely in midget. His 17-year-old season saw him eke out 18 points for the Tri-City Americans and him overlooked in the 2017 NHL Draft. His 18-year-old season saw him traded to the Raiders and up his production to 33 points. Based on that trajectory, modest expectations for his 19-year-old season were definitely warranted.
Up until this past campaign, Leason was looked upon by many WHL scouts as a promising player with a lot of good raw tools – a big frame, physical tools and pretty effective puck skills – who simply didn’t have the skating to really use those skills. During the 2018 off-season, he worked on his skating and that unleashed the rest of his game on the WHL. He nearly tripled his previous offensive output.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
The dilemma for NHL teams at the draft is pretty simple: has Leason hit his developmental peak? In 2018-19, his skating finally caught up to the rest of his game and led to an offensive outburst. Can his enhanced mobility lead to further development of other aspects of his game, or is he close to what he’s going to be as a pro?
If he has plateaued, or is close to it, he’s a big-bodied offensive-minded winger who has been a pretty dominant player in a strong junior circuit. If nothing else, he could develop into a pretty effective depth player, but potentially more if he can keep growing his game.
Brett Leason – NHL Draft Projection
Based on the consensus of the various draft rankings, Leason is likely to be selected late in the first round or early in the second round.
“Incredibly, Leason’s 25 points in 22 playoff games was only second among 2019 draft prospects (Vancouver’s Bowen Byram was unreal), but it was also second in the league. Leason, the late bloomer, is strong, talented and big. Look for him in the first round this summer – and the Memorial Cup before that.” – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News
“He’s big. He has reach. He’s smart. He’s great with the puck… And he found another gear (with his skating), and I think that’s been a key. Because he’s really fast now. And with the size and the skill-set of him, he’s tough to handle.” – Marc Habscheid, Prince Albert Raiders head coach (via Calgary Sun)
- Good hockey sense, particularly in the neutral and offensive zones.
- Has a big frame and uses his size really effectively.
- Really effective shooter and puck distributor.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- His skating has improved but it could still stand to be a bit better, in terms of his first few steps being more effective.
- Needs to round out his game with more attention to detail away from the puck.
Other 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
Leason projects as a middle six winger. He likely doesn’t have the mobility (yet) to be a top six player, but there’s still room for him to develop. His playing style and frame somewhat resemble Alex Tuch.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8.5/10, Defense 7/10
Leason represented Canada at the World Juniors. He was also named a WHL Conference First All-Star in the 2018-19 season.
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.