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A few short weeks ago, the idea of including Ryan Leonard while covering pick #5 would not have been a consideration. Leonard will be available, and many are suggesting that if the Habs do end up with Leonard as their selection, the option to trade down a few spots and get an extra asset might be worth exploring.

However, a quick study of what Leonard offers might convince you otherwise. Leonard’s mid-season ranking was in the teens, yet a 94 points season in 57 games helped him improve that standing to an almost definitive top-12 selection. Like many options for the Canadiens in this spot, Leonard doesn’t catch the eye for his stature as his 5’11 frame isn’t the most “projectable frame” out there. However, his extra gear on skates helps eliminate worry about his frame. He is a modern-day power forward with everything he does as opposed to Matvei Michkov, Zach Benson, or even Oliver Moore. So, if the Habs like a Gallagher-like energy with far more skill, then Leonard is absolutely in the mix to be the selection at fifth overall. 


Right Wing
Shoots: Right
DOB: January 21st, 2005
Height: 6′0
Weight: 192 lbs 


Elite Prospects: 9
Future Considerations: 25
Daily Faceoff: 6
The Hockey News: 7
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 10
TSN (Craig Button): 12
NHL Central Scouting (North America): 4
Sportsnet: 7
Recruit Scouting: 14
Dobber Prospects: 10
McKeen: 8
Smaht Scouting: 12 


Scouting Report

As mentioned, Leonard is a modern-day power-forward and his potential as a likely top-pairing player is not in question. Like Brady Tkachuk when the Habs selected Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Leonard isn’t as sexy as some of the home run swings previously covered, but he likely has the highest floor as the safest bet and his play style will also resemble the Tkachuk’s in his ability and desire to get into traffic to make things happen when he must. 

The first thing that all scouts mention when talking about Leonard is his non-stop motor that makes him the straw that stirs the drink on his line with highly touted Will Smith as his centre. While his top-end speed isn’t exceptional, his acceleration to reach his top speed really is and it allows him to make strong defensive plays and to attack the opposing net with regularity making him hard to handle for defenders.  

Leonard is the goalscorer, something the Habs do require more of on the roster, and while his shot is a weapon, his most notable qualities here are his ability to find the dead zone in coverage and his willingness and ability to get into traffic and score the ugly goals. That last detail was the most interesting one for me because it is the detail that I find is most lacking with current Habs trigger-man Cole Caufield. Much like Caufield, his playmaking is good even if it’s not his primary ability and he is better if he can be the one releasing the shot that finds the back of the net as opposed to being the guy creating the play. 

When discussing his defensive game, one must return to his top quality which is his motor. Defensively, he will find himself out of position from moving a bit too much, but his desire to perform and his willingness to battle and get back into plays make him an above-average contributor on the defensive side of the puck. Considering the toughness of the Montreal market, this ability within Leonard’s game is an important one to consider. 


Leonard is committed to Boston College in the Fall so don’t look for him to be wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge that early. This isn’t that different than many other options for the team at this position like Michkov and Smith, while Benson, Carlsson, and Reinbacher are all available immediately.

This shouldn’t really be a factor for the Canadiens in making their selection because they don’t figure to be a contender for a playoff spot in 23-24. The good news with Leonard is that the Habs can have their say in his development and it won’t be much longer after the 23-24 season that Leonard will turn pro and bring that motor of his to Montreal should the Habs decide to make him their selection.