Ryan Leonard Is The Exact Kind Of Player The Washington Capitals Need

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

Going into the 2023 NHL draft there was some excitement around the Washington Capitals. One, they had a higher draft pick. That has not happened in a long time. When you have a top ten pick, or even higher, it is a really exciting time for the fans. You should be picking an excellent prospect and you could get a key player for the future.

This year for the Capitals there was a possibility that they could have picked a tremendous talent. A lot of people thought Washington had a good chance at drafting Matvei Michkov. Some thought Michkov might be the second best player in this draft class, but for reasons, he could fall to number eight, right into the Capitals laps.

The draft happens and Michkov goes 7th. Bummer! But make no mistake about it, even with an incredibly exciting prospect being taken right before your pick, someone a lot of fans wanted, I think the Capitals got the kind of player they really need.

With the 8th pick Washington was able to pick up Ryan Leonard. Skill wise, not even close to Michkov, and I don’t mean offense by that. Not many are as good as Michkov. That’s why it hurt some fans that the Caps didn’t get him.

The Capitals, I feel, already have a big offensive player coming in Ivan Miroshnichenko. They didn’t need another big offensive guy in their system. If they got it then great, the more the merrier. But in terms of team building I think the Caps got exactly the kind of guy they needed, both for now and the future.

From everything you hear and read, Leonard is a high motor player. Works hard and plays hard every shift. From scouting reports that I have read he is a very good skater. He’s smart offensively which allows him to get open, and he will go to the hard to get to scoring areas on the ice. According to that scouting report from Last Word on Sports, he can also have a bomb of a shot.

He sounds like he can be a good defensive player, but thanks to his high motor it can cost him a little bit. That doesn’t sound bad to me. I would rather have someone be over active in the D zone than under active and watching the play while your teammates work.

Something that you have to love about Leonard is guys that he has been compared to. Some have even compared him to Tom Wilson. Now lets not get this confused, he does not have the size of Wilson. Tom is 6’4″ and probably over 220lbs. Leonard, at least now, is about 6′ and just under 200lbs.

Someone else that I’ve heard him compared to is Matthew Tkachuk. On the 32 Thoughts podcast they keep saying how teams will be wanting to find guys like the Tkachuk’s and Matt in particular. It sounds like the Capitals might have gotten the closest thing to him in this draft.

To me, that is exactly, and I mean exactly, what this Capitals team needs. Again, I know a lot of Caps fans wanted the flashy, potential star in Michkov. But he is just an offensive guy. If he is not scoring he might not be doing much. The Capitals need guys who will do it all. More than that, they need guys with high motors.

Since winning the Stanley Cup five years ago this team has gotten out worked a lot. You could argue that work ethic in games is possibly the biggest reason they have lost in the playoffs every year, except this past season obviously with the team not even making the dance. The Capitals have had skill on their teams. Way too many guys on this team over the last few seasons disappear and get outworked.

That’s why Leonard is the perfect pick. Even if Michkov was available I still would have gone after Leonard, or if not Leonard, Zach Benson, who ended up going to St. Louis at 13.

Learn from mistakes. The Capitals keep getting outworked? Get guys with some skill who have these high motors. Acquire guys who won’t allow that to happen.

For the future, this Caps team may have it’s skill. You have the younger prospects in McMichael and Lapierre and maybe the most exciting in terms of scoring in Miroshnichenko. Maybe Kuznetsov sticks around for a long time. You have Dylan Strome. Even Wilson who chips in a lot now. The skill could be there already for the future.

Related Story. Capitals end draft with two picks in seventh round. light

The Capitals need the kind of player Ryan Leonard is. That’s why I think the Capitals nailed this first pick in the 2023 draft. He is exactly what this Capitals team needs, both for now and the future.