The Vancouver Canucks acquired 23-year-old Brendan Leipsic at the 2018 trade deadline and he’s already made quite the impression chalking up two assists in his Canucks debut in a tight contest against the New York Rangers.
Leipsic appeared to be a good fit on the team’s top line with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, tacking on some additional speed, skill and grit. There was some chemistry flowing on that line, but the question is, will it be a long-term fit?
In today’s NHL, speed kills. If a player has speed, his size can generally be overlooked and Leipsic is no exception. The Winnipeg product is 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds but plays like he’s 6-foot-3. He skates like the wind and has no fear when it comes to getting into the dirty areas.
What makes Boeser and Horvat so deadly together, aside from their talent, is the fact that they push the tempo and put defending players on their heels. Adding Leipsic’s speed into the mix is like throwing kerosene into a raging fire.
The Canucks were lacking on the left side in terms of talent and speed, so Leipsic is a welcome addition on the wing. He originally tried to crack the Toronto Maple Leafs’ roster but their system is riddled with undersized speed and talent so he was pushed aside.
He was picked up by the Vegas Golden Knights in this season’s expansion draft and while playing very limited bottom-six minutes, Leipsic managed to contribute two goals and 11 helpers in 44 games. However, while there, Canucks’ director of professional scouting saw him play a lot and liked what he saw. In fact, pretty much everyone in the scouting world likes what they see with the young gun.
‘The 23-year-old brings a Brad Marchand-style of game to the rink each night that agitates opponents and endears fans.’ – Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
Before The Canucks
Leipsic built up his scouting profile during his time in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, putting up impressive point totals and impressing his coach, Travis Green.
In 261 games with the Winterhawks, Leipsic found twine 132 times and helped out on an additional 170 — for those of you who don’t have a calculator handy, that’s 1.16 points-per-game.
On top of his point production, Leipsic was also quite the pest, earning him the previously mentioned comparison to one of the best pests in the league, Marchand, and a decent 346 PIMS.
Notably, in the 2012-13 campaign with the Winterhawks, Leipsic chalked up 49 tallies, 71 apples and 103 PIMS in 68 games, all while carrying a plus-55 rating.
In 2012, he was selected in the third round by the Nashville Predators and started playing for their AHL affiliate for the 2014-15 season. After recording 35 points in 47 games, he was shipped off to the Maple Leafs’ farm team for the reminder of the season where he continued his offensive contributions and gave the Toronto Marlies 19 points in 27 games.
Leipsic continued to shine in the AHL for the Marlies over the next two seasons, potting 38 markers and assisting on 67 more and NHL teams started to take notice. As stated above, the Maple Leafs already had enough undersized speed in their system so they overlooked Leipsic. The Golden Knights, however, did not.
‘He’s a good hockey player, and we like him a lot, so I’m looking forward to watching him tonight.’ – Gerard Gallant told Sportsnet
Knights coach, Gerard Gallant has high praise for the winger and was happy to utilize the young man in a bottom-six capacity, seeing as the team’s top-six is already cemented and successful.
Leipsic and the Canucks
With Green and scouts vouching for Leipsic, Benning made the calculated decision to bring him into the fold at the deadline for defensive prospect, Philip Holm, in a questionable move. The two major issues with the Canucks’ roster is defence and winger prowess, so this trade affected both issues in different ways.
Green and Benning see more potential in Leipsic than the Leafs or the Knights and they want him to play top-six minutes.
‘We’ve followed Leipsic for a while. He adds speed, quickness and skill that we need. We’re going to give him an opportunity to play with skilled players so we can see what he can do.’ – Jim Benning told TSN.
He looked good on the top line. Really good. His speed makes Horvat and Boeser more dangerous and the line a complete package that is necessary to dominate the NHL.
Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit here, but I think the Canucks may have just stumbled on to the perfect missing piece to their unsolvable puzzle. Obviously, there’s only one game to base this assessment off of but considering his style of play, I strongly believe he’s going to be very successful with the elite play of Horvat and the offensive gifts of Boeser.
Is he a good fit? Am I way off? Tell me what you think about Leipsic on the top line below!
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.