Another top draft pick has inked his entry-level contract, as Brett Leason has signed with the Washington Capitals. Leason’s three-year entry-level deal will carry an average annual value of $842,500. Unlike many other draft picks, Leason’s deal does not have the opportunity to slide forward as he is already 20 years old after being passed over in the past two drafts. He will be a restricted free agent following the 2021-22 season.
Being selected 56th overall by the Capitals last month was the result of years of hard work by Leason, who wasn’t even a high pick in the 2014 WHL bantam draft and only played a single CHL game before the 2016-17 season. He would score just 18 point for the Tri-City Americans that year and went undrafted as an 18-year old who wasn’t even an offensive contributor in junior. The next season things started out poorly again for Leason with the Americans, scoring just a single goal in the first 12 games before a trade to the Prince Albert Raiders changed everything.
Leason would find success in Prince Albert scoring 32 points down the stretch but was still overlooked entirely at draft time. After all, 19-year old NHL prospects are expected to dominate the CHL at that point. Well, dominate he did in his third WHL season and first full year with the Raiders. Leason scored 36 goals and 89 points in 55 regular season games and added an appearance at the World Juniors for Team Canada. In the playoffs he would continue to be a force, adding 25 points in 22 games while taking home a WHL championship with the powerhouse Prince Albert squad.
The question now will be whether or not Leason can take that kind of production into the professional ranks, but betting against him at this point is probably a bad idea. Armed with an NHL-ready shot—in strength, accuracy and release—the 6’4″ forward will try to establish himself as a goal scorer and powerplay option in the minor leagues and force his way onto the Capitals roster before long. With so much money tied up in their top players, Washington will need some entry-level contributions over the next few seasons and Leason might be the right prospect to give them that on a hastened timeline.