Before the NHL draft on June 28-29, Detroit Hockey Now will review nine different players who have a chance to be selected ninth overall by the Detroit Red Wings. Today’s first installment looks at Team USA right wing Ryan Leonard.
Position: Right Wing; Hgt./Wgt: 6-0/190
Playing style: Natural goal scorer, one of the best in the draft.
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: Fifth among North American prospects.
League: U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP), United States Hockey League
Leonard scored 51 goals this season in 57 games. When it comes to hands, he’s just below Connor Bedard and Matvei Michkov. He boasts a quick release and impressive accuracy. He can wire a puck into a mail slot. More importantly, he boasts a strong all around game. He’s not a giant player, but has a solid build and can be forceful during puck battles. He will throw his weight around. Leonard has stepped up for Team USA in big games. He is slick with the puck. Extremely dangerous on the power play. He doesn’t need much space to create. Scouts believe has a chance to become a top line scorer.
Why the Red Wings Might Select Him
Potential top line scorers are hard to find, especially ones that offer multiple ways to help a team. Steve Yzerman said after the season that he hoped he could improve the Red Wings’ offense. He was talking about next season, but the Red Wings could use more offensively gifted scorers long-term as well. Forward Marco Kasper was the draft selection last season at No. 8. Another elite forward this season, possessing the potential to play alongside Kasper, also makes sense. The Red Wings have seen plenty of Leonard games this season. They clearly have a good read on him.
Why the Red Wings Might Not Select Him
Odds would favor Leonard being gone by the ninth selection. He could end up going in the top five picks, depending upon what teams decide to do about Russian Matvei Mishkov. But this draft class is deep, and no one knows how many teams picking before Detroit will “go off the board” for their pick. This is a year when there are intriguing players rated outside the consensus top 10. If a couple of teams go that route, there’s a better chance of Leonard being available at nine. Of course, the Red Wings could be among the teams that “go off the board.” Yzerman is full of surprises.