Capitals Select Ryan Leonard With The 8th Overall Pick In The 2023 NHL Entry Draft

The Washington Capitals selected forward Ryan Leonard with the 8th overall pick in the 2023 NHL entry draft Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. The selection marks the first time in franchise history the Capitals have selected a player from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) in the first round.

While Leonard is listed as a center, he played all three forward positions with the US National U18 squad. He was also part of the dynamic line composed of Gabe Perreault and Will Smith. The entire trio is headed to Boston College for the 2023-24 season.

The 18-year-old had a strong year with the U18 team racking up 94 points (51 goals, 43 assists) in 57 games. In the USHL, he had 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in 17 games. He also led Team USA to a gold medal in the U18 World Championship, scoring the “golden goal” in overtime.

One word sticks out when referring to the Amherst, Mass., native: power. Leonard is an outstanding power forward that never stops moving his feet, much like Zach Benson. He described himself as having a “Tkachuk-esque bite” to his game. He goes after every single puck in all three zones and is positionally aware of where he needs to be whenever a defensemen pinches.

Despite standing at 5-foot-11, Leonard is very strong and rarely gets knocked off the puck. He is not afraid to attack the net and use his body to shield the opposition from the puck. He is a very powerful and explosive skater with incredible balance. Leonard’s shot is also deadly. It is deceptive, powerful and accurate.

Scouts have not found a lot of holes in his game. Sometimes he does puck watch despite being a 200-foot player, but the big question is his ceiling as an NHL player. How good can he be without playing alongside star players?

Leonard is a consensus top 10 pick. The Caps could use a versatile, high-octane power forward in their system and Leonard fits that mold perfectly.


The Athletic

Leonard has often been the top-line right wing on the U.S. NTDP playing a ton of minutes in all situations. He was invited to USA’s world juniors camp but was cut. He scored the golden goal in overtime at the 2023 U18 worlds. He played the most out of all the 2005-born players with the 2004 age group in the 2022 season. Leonard scored five goals and six points in five games at the 2022 U18 World Championships. He is committed to Boston College.

Leonard is a versatile winger with a lot of elements to his game that an NHL coach will covet. He’s a strong skater who competes very well, with a direct style of play and despite an average-sized frame he has a lot of physicality in his game. He combines that with excellent hands and an ability to make highly skilled plays with the puck at full speed. His playmaking isn’t great but there’s vision and finishing ability in his game to score at higher levels. Leonard may never truly stand out at either end of the ice, but he will never give a coach a reason to sit him and projects as a quality top-six wing.

Ray Ferrari 

The thunder to Will Smith’s lightning, Ryan Leonard is a winger who will go through you if he doesn’t see a path around you. He attacks the middle in the offensive zone, skating downhill at defenders with speed and power while having the requisite skill level to dangle opponents when necessary. Leonard shows the most defensive aptitude of any of the NTDP’s top-line players, using his strength and physicality to his advantage, but his positional play must continue to improve. Leonard has a wicked release from a distance and can make tidy work of loose pucks in tight. He is a finisher with developing playmaking abilities, showing that he can be an excellent complement to a highly-skilled center in a team’s top six.

Smaht Scouting

Leonard has lengthy reach that allows him to loose pucks in the offensive zone in a highly contested situation. He will grab onto the puck and then use his reach again to push the puck away from the attacker.  Once securing the puck, should pressure shift over to Leonard quickly, he will then look to complete drop passes to teammates skating towards him. After completing the drop pass, Leonard typically looks to skate to the slot and set himself up at the doorstep. He’s drawing pressure away, looking to catch attackers puck watching and sets himself up at net front to provide an intriguing passing option for the teammate that he passed to. Not only does Leonard create the passing option in high danger, but he also is in position to tip-in / deflect pucks or capitalize with rebound goals.

The Hockey News

Ryan Leonard is a high energy winger who never takes his foot off the gas in terms of both speed and effort. He uses his speed and skill to blow by defenders in the neutral zone and pressure in-zone defenders who struggle to anticipate his next move. His playmaking and shot aren’t exceptional, but they’re both good enough to be reasonably sure that his offense would translate to the NHL some day. – Logan Horn –

EliteProspects 2023 NHL Draft Guide 

Leonard is dangerous with the puck in the offensive zone, possessing a pro-calibre shot and hands. He is incredibly deceptive, using his upper body and eyes to turn defenders’ feet and sticks before walking around them or getting a shot on net. Leonard is a great facilitator, as well. After making a move, he can find guys in stride in dangerous spots. An above-average skater, Leonard can employ all of these tools off the rush too, making him even more versatile.


Very skilled and offensively gifted player. Hockey sense is excellent. Threat to score every shift because of his excellent shot, a goal-scorers touch and the ability to find open space. Hard guy to play against because of his relentless effort and playing style. Gets in on the forecheck quickly and backchecks with a purpose. He can drive play and put opposing defenders on their heels with his 200-foot game. A very exciting player to watch.



Ranked #22 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #7 by DAILY FACEOFF
Ranked #7 by THE HOCKEY NEWS
Ranked #6 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #8 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #12 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #5 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #6 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #11 by SMAHT SCOUTING


Washington picked in the top 10 for the first time since 2007, when they selected defenseman Karl Alzner fifth overall. Prior to 2007, the last two times the Capitals picked in the top 10 they selected Nicklas Backstrom (fourth overall in 2006) and Alex Ovechkin (first overall in 2004).

The Capitals also hold the 40th pick (second round), 104th pick (fourth round), 136th pick (fifth round) and 200th overall pick (seventh round) which will be made on the second day of the draft on Thursday.

2023 NHL Entry Draft
Capitals Select Ryan Leonard With The 8th Overall Pick In The 2023 NHL Entry Draft
Deep Dive On Ryan Leonard – Capitals First Round Pick In The 2023 NHL Entry Draft
Capitals Select Andrew Cristall In The Second Round Of The 2023 NHL Entry Draft
Capitals Select Patrick Thomas In The Fourth Round Of The 2023 NHL Entry Draft
Capitals Select Cameron Allen In The Fifth Round Of The 2023 NHL Entry Draft
Capitals Select Brett Hyland In The Seventh Round Of The 2023 NHL Entry Draft
Capitals Trade 7th Round Draft Picks With San Jose Sharks, Select Goaltender Antoine Keller

By Jacob Cheris and Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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32 Responses to Capitals Select Ryan Leonard With The 8th Overall Pick In The 2023 NHL Entry Draft

  1. Anonymous says:

    GMBM should have traded pick with Ari…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Like fed to Wilson and the Tkachucks. Good pick.

  3. Prevent Defense says:

    Low risk, high reward, power forward with snarl. I’ll take it

  4. Marky says:

    Love this pick

  5. andrew777dc says:

    Nice. And, maybe, safer than Michkov, character-wise)

  6. novafyre says:

    I read lots of Flyers articles expecting them to select him at #7. They liked his maturity and physicality. Hate having to wait 4 to 5 years to get him to Hershey. Sounds as though he would be ready for the AHL before then.

  7. DC Scappeli says:

    If he has snarl and fearlessness, then I’m sold. I want someone to go to the net, drive hard. Not curl off all the time. So if Leonard can bring some offense threat to the net, I’m all for it.

  8. Jon Sorensen says:

  9. Prevent Defense says:

    Caps final 30 games last season were a disgrace. it’s time to turn this nonsense around and play like the Washington Capitals again. Loser Lavi is gone. New Leadership is in. They just drafted a tough guy. Time for some FIRE in this franchise

  10. Jon Sorensen says:

    I guess trades have been outlawed in the 2023 draft?

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Tonight marks the first time since 2007 that no trades were completed during Round 1 of the #NHLDraft, per NHL Stats.

      • Prevent Defense says:

        Has a funny smell to it, doesn’t it?
        “Best Draft Class” in fifteen years … big names galore … yet nobody “trades up” like they usually do. Very Bettman-ish

  11. dwgie26 says:

    Man I love this pick. I would have loved to have gotten Michkov but I think Lenny might end up being the better fit. Speed, physicality, 200 foot game, snipe, go to the net guy fits well with Caps. Suspect the NTDP trio will all go to BC as planned and we’ll see who goes to NHL in a year. Maybe two.

  12. Jon Sorensen says:

  13. Lance says:

    I’m happy as can be with us taking Leonard. He plays the game the right way. Team first. Win the damn game. Do what you have to do to win. If he’s an Oshie we struck gold.

  14. hockeydruid says:

    Good pick and better person. Big question I have is he going to stay at BC 1,2 or 3 years? When he gets here will he be a RW, LW or a C?

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      From what I’ve seen he hasn’t said (undecided) The BC team is so strong this year, I think they have a great chance at a championship, so maybe that leads to an earlier departure? That’s my plan at least 😁

      • hockeydruid says:

        Would be ice for him to win the championship his first year and then come out and go to Hershey for a year and then by the 25/26 season be in the NHL. Could he play RW on the 2nd line. That Tom as RW on the first line and then Leonard (mini Tom) on the 2nd!

  15. Mark Eiben says:

    Didn’t think we would be getting Michkov so in my mind I was wanting Leonard or Dvorsky. Love that we got one of the two. This kid has skill, speed, shot, grit and a good hockey mind. He will be a top 6 right wing and maybe even a center if he wants.

  16. Prevent Defense says:

    It was fun to see Radek Bonk’s son Oliver get chosen in the NHL Draft first round.

    The senior Bonk used to make the Caps look silly in the pre-Ovechkin years. One really good season when Bonk, Hasek, Havlat and Chara were together, OTT lost to NJD in 7-game Conference Final. A bad day for the Hockey Gods. But the Flyers get Bonk and Michkov. Not a bad haul

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