“When we had our first round pick, we had a chance to get Connor McMichael or Brett Leason, but we didn’t think we’d end up with both of them.” Those were the words from Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan just after the draft in 2019.
MacLellan told Leason at the time that he’d spend the next year in Hershey and that he needed to work on being quicker and making smarter decisions along the wall, among other things. He’d then come back with a year of pro experience under his belt and be better equipped to have a crack at making the Capitals roster the following season.
Leason would indeed spend the next season in Hershey getting acclimated to the professional game. But the Calgary native struggled for most of his first AHL season. In the end, he recorded just three goals and 11 assists in 50 games played, shooting just 5.4% on 56 shots.
But Leason has started slow and finished strong before.
The 6’-4”, right winger recorded just eight goals and 10 assists while playing for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL during the 2016-17 season. 12 games into the 2017-2018 season, Leason was traded to the Prince Albert Raiders.
Leason’s 2018-2019 season saw a massive jump in scoring, as he spent a good portion of the season on the top line with fellow Capitals’ prospect Aliaksei Protas and WHL veteran Sean Montgomery. In 55 games, Leason posted 36 goals and 53 assists for a combined 89 points. In 22 playoff games, Leason added another 10 goals and 15 more assists, helping the Raiders win the WHL championship.
Leason, now 21, has already topped his goal output from last season, posting four goals in just 11 games played so far in the 2020-21 season. He’s scored three goals and an assist in the last five games and is currently tied for second in goals and is third in total points on the Bears.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) February 27, 2021
“Personally, I think I’m having a strong start. I really like where it’s headed and looking to keep that up,” said Leason in an interview on Wednesday.
Bears head coach Spencer Carbery challenged Leason at the start of this season, encouraging him to step-up his game and make the most of his sophomore campaign. So far, Leason has done just that.
“This is a big year for me, for sure. Didn’t have quite the rookie season that I wanted. I know I need to have a big jump this year. I’ve been working on my skating a lot, and Carbs (Carbery) has been helping me a lot with skills,” said Leason.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 7, 2021
“He’s helping with my skating a lot. (We watch) skating clips together. When we’re working out there, we do a lot of heavy puck. One touches of the puck, work on the backhand, just making sure (the) bottom hand is strong.”
Leason has anchored the right wing position for the Bears this season, most recently on the 4th line with Riley Sutter and Shane Gersich. The trio of Capitals’ prospects have looked solid in their line play and have proven to be productive and reliable at both ends of the ice.
Leason and the Bears return to the ice this Friday when they visit the Binghamton Devils in Newark, New Jersey. Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm.
By Jon Sorensen