Capitals Draft Grades: Ryan Leonard scores a high grade

Ryan Leonard, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Ryan Leonard, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Washington Capitals didn’t trade up. They stayed put and although the player I wanted got taken spot prior, the team made the right call in drafting Ryan Leonard.

NHL Central Scouting ranked Leonard second among North American right wings and fifth among all North American skaters.

The 18 year old is a native of Amherst, Massachusetts and spent this past season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program’s Under 18 Team.

He also represented the United States at the 2022 and 2023 Under 18 World Championships, winning a silver medal in 2022 and a gold medal in 2023.

In the 2023 tournament, Leonard scored the gold medal clinching goal in overtime against Sweden, giving USA their first Under 18 gold since 2017. Leonard led all skaters in plus minus with a plus 16 and finished third in tournament scoring with 17 points in seven games with eight goals and nine assists.

It marks the first time in franchise history that the Capitals have taken a player from USA Hockey’s NTDP in the first round and Leonard is the sixth American selected in the opening round by Washington.

He joins John Carlson (27th overall, 2008), Joe Finely (27th overall, 2005), Pat Peake (14th overall, 1991), Kevin Hatcher (17th overall, 1984) and Bobby Carpenter (3rd overall, 1981).

The Caps drafted Leonard’s former teammate on the NTDP, Ryan Chesley, in the second round at 37th overall in the 2022 NHL Draft. Leonard is also the first right wing selected by the Caps in the first round since Tom Wilson (16th overall) in 2012.

Grade A+: As I mentioned earlier, Michkov was off the board by the time the Caps were on the clock. There were plenty of good players available but the team made the right call by taking the Caps next Captain America.

Related Story. Capitals get it right with Ryan Leonard in NHL Draft. light

The NHL Draft continues with Rounds 2-7 today. The Capitals have four more picks beginning with pick number 40 in the second round. It picks up again at 11 a.m. on NHL Network.