One of the questions that Nashville Predators prospect Brendan Leipsic is consistently asked is how he plans to make it in the NHL while being so small as he’s 5’9″ and 180lbs, but that’s not why we’re here today. Plenty of NHLers have been considered smaller and have gone on to have successful careers. Former Nashville Predator Steve Sullivan is only 5’9″ and his 747 points (290G – 457A) speak volumes for his success. Instead, Leipsic is looking forward beginning his pro career by starting in Milwaukee. Prior to going pro, Leipsic amassed 302 points (132G – 170) in 261 games for the Portland Winterhawks (and with current Nashville Predators Seth Jones) of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Ridiculously good numbers. Will that transfer over into the pros though? Everyone will find out soon enough.
Coming into this year’s development camp, Leipsic was one of the veterans on the ice as he’s been in the organization since 2012. Leipsic was taken in the 3rd round (89th overall). With a new coaching staff in place for development camp, Leipsic noticed a difference in the drills.
“In the past, the on-ice sessions had been more skating focused,” said Leipsic. “This year, we got a new skills coach in with more offensive focused practices and more skill work. It’s always nice to get to touch pucks more and do some scoring drills.”
As most fans know, this year’s development camp was held at Bridgestone Arena instead of Centennial Sportsplex. This was Leipsic’s first time playing on pro ice and it will definitely not be his last.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Leipsic. “Obviously I’ve never skated in this building before. I didn’t get an exhibition game at home last year, so it was a lot of fun and good to get a taste of what it’s like to play a real game here.”
In just looking at his numbers, Leipsic has a scoring touch. The challenge is going to be transferring that ability from junior hockey to pros. Being able to score is something that he’s worked on since he started playing the game. Having that hockey sense is something that could prove to set him a part from other players as he continues to develop.
“Ever since I was young, I competed really hard and never took a shift off,” said Leipsic. “I’ve always been kind of an offensive type player. I started out in juniors just as an energy player as a young guy on an older team. As I got older, I moved into more of an offensive role and on a team like Portland, I really flourished in that environment.”
The WHL is known for being the more physical league out of the three Canadian Hockey League segments. It has produced such talent as Shea Weber and Colton Sissons (both from the Kelowna Rockets). Being able to produce at such a high rate in a physical league should help Leipsic make the transition.
“I think the WHL prepares you really well,” said Leipsic. “Obviously the NHL is a big, tough league and there’s not a lot of space out there. Guys are physical and big. You have to be fast and be able to make plays out there.”
Making plays is certainly part of Leipsic’s wheelhouse. He’s speedy and knows where to be on the ice in order to make plays happen. Opponents should be aware of where he’s at on the ice, especially during when they’re killing a penalty.
“My most dangerous shot is probably the one-timer on the power play,” said Leipsic. “I scored a lot of goals that way this year from the right side. My teammate Nick Petan, with the [Winnipeg] Jets, fed me a lot.”
The rest of the AHL (and even NHL) should be on notice for Leipsic. He plays with a lot of energy and has offensive skills that could make him into a very dangerous player. Before he eventually makes that jump to the NHL, he’s looking forward to hone his skills even further with the Admirals.
“I’m just looking to develop,” said Leipsic. “With this being my first year, it’s like going back to junior, so it’s kind of deja-vu all over again, but you’re more experienced. I’m looking forward to getting to know the guys a little more and learning from the veterans. I’m just going to keep doing what I do that got me here.”
If that means averaging 1.16 points per game, then I think most fans will be thrilled to see what he can do for the organization as he works his way up to eventually joining the Predators.