TLN Top 20 Prospects 2016: #12 Brendan Leipsic

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I feel Brendan Leipsic is one of the most overlooked prospects within the Maple Leafs’ development system. It’s a simple case, really. Leipsic is one of a plethora of under-6’0″ wingers that the Leafs have ownership of. It’s not hard to lower your expectations of him when there isn’t that much pressure for him to succeed. Not everyone can get an NHL job and so if it’s one of the other small wingers instead of Leipsic, no one will be upset.

But it’s important to pay attention to Leipsic, as he brings a lot of tools to the game that maybe the others do not. I sincerely believe that, if given an opportunity, he’ll have a successful first NHL season next year.

The Votes

Jeff Ryan H. Shawn Ryan F. Adam Dom Jess Katy Readers
8 9 11 12 12 9 13 N/R 12

Leipsic was placed 9th in our 2015 rankings.

Player Bio

Position Hometown Height Weight Hand 2015 Team Acquired
LW Winnipeg, MB 5’9 165 Left Toronto Marlies Trade (2015)

The Stats

 SEASON Age TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP NHLe PIM +/-
 2007-08 13  Winnipeg Monarchs Bntm AAA Div 2  WBAAA2 28 20 15 35 N/A 62 N/A
 2008-09 14  Winnipeg Monarchs Bantam AAA  WBAAA 29 16 20 36 N/A 38 N/A
 2009-10 15  Winnipeg Wild Midget AAA  MMHL 41 23 40 63 N/A 38 N/A
 2010-11 16  Portland Winterhawks  WHL 68 16 17 33 10.74 50 13
 2011-12 17  Portland Winterhawks  WHL 65 28 30 58 19.76 82 16
 2012-13 18  Portland Winterhawks  WHL 68 49 71 120 39.07 103 55
 2013-14 19  Portland Winterhawks   WHL 60 39 52 91 33.58 111 28
 2014-15 20 Milwaukee / Toronto  AHL 74 14 40 54 28.12 22 5
 2015-16 21  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL 6 1 2 3 41 2 -1
  21  Toronto Marlies  AHL 65 20 34 54 32.02 55 16

After tearing up the town with a loaded Portland Winterhawks team (from 2012-2014 they featured a season or two of Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seth Jones, Ty Rattie, Derrick Pouliot, Taylor Leier, and Matt Dumba), many considered Leipsic a passenger on that roster, as they did with Petan when he was drafted.

But since, Leipsic has proven his doubters wrong, scoring 54 points in his rookie AHL season, and matched the same total points (in 9 fewer games) this past season. He’s undoubtedly had AHL success. Will he be able to bring the same success to the NHL?

Projection Stats

pGPSn pGPSs pGPS% pGPS PPG pGPS PP82 pGPSr
146 (6/18) 61 (5/18) 41.8% (7/18) 0.57 (9/18) 46.82 (9/18) 23.85 (8/18)

  • pGPSn: The number of matches between the subject and the player-seasons (one season by a single player, i.e, John Tavares 2008 OHL) in the historical sample.
  • pGPSs: The number of statistical matches that became NHL regulars. This is determined by playing 200 NHL games.
  • pGPS%: Simply s divided by n, this is the percentage of statistical matches that successfully became NHL players.
  • pGPS PPG: The NHL points per game of successful matches.
  • pGPS P82: The same as pGPS PPG, but stretched over 82 games.
  • pGPSr: A bit of a hybrid number, this pGPS Rating combines the percentage and points per game to produce a number that includes both likelihood of success and potential upside.

Based on the success of his historical comparables, Leipsic is projected to become a middle-six forward.

To learn more about the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, check out this post.

pGPSr has a strong correlation with NHL P/GP, around 45%. This is significantly stronger than Corsi has with winning. Leipsic’s 23.85 is likely near the center of the distribution (i.e. average changes of success), but I haven’t looked at the histogram personally. A pGPS% of 41.8% is really strong; that’s about the same chances of success as a 20-25th overall pick at the time of the pick.

The Eye Test

Leipsic is a small but feisty player, as many have been told. He isn’t a dirty player by any means, but gets under the opponents skin in the same way (but not to the same degree) as Brendan Gallagher or our own Leo Komarov. He also doesn’t really back it up with the same punishing physicality that Komarov does. 

READ MORE: What new Leafs prospect Brendan Leipsic’s track record suggests about his upside

His scoring ability comes from really slick skating, and puck control talents that few in the AHL can keep up with. He needs to work on his shooting, not on the shot necessarily but from where he takes shots from. He’ll likely see a significant scoring increase if he can display the strength and creativity required to get chances in the slot at the NHL level.

As Seen on TV

Here we can see Leipsic score one of the coolest 1st NHL goals I’ve ever seen (though not the prettiest). Have a look:

The Buildup

Last season, Leipsic got a 6 game stay with the NHL club. Too short to do any real analysis on (generally you need about 15 games for Score Adjusted Corsi, 20 for xGF%), but it was a nice glimpse into him as a player. I felt he was really solid and deserved a longer look, but as we all know, the roster was a complete carousel of players post-trade deadline. 

READ MORE: Brendan Leipsic scores hat trick in eventual Marlies victory

His stint with the Marlies, as mentioned above was very solid, and I think it should set him up well for a shot at the big club. 

Next Season

Obviously, there is a huge logjam of forwards in the Maple Leafs’ roster. I’m really excited about Leipsic’s opportunities next season, but barring a significant number of injuries or a superhuman preseason performance, I don’t think Leipsic makes the roster out of training camp.

READ MORE: Leipsic excited to begin playing in Leafs organization

However, as the season goes on and players are hurt, traded or press-boxed, I believe Leipsic will get a chance to show his stuff and really show what he’s got. With number of young, talented forwards on the Leafs, he should be able to come up and have solid quality of teammates and make a good impression on the coaching staff.

Closing Thoughts

I firmly believe that Leipsic is one of the Leafs’ top 10 prospects and is largely underrated by Leafs Nation. Many are certainly aware of his talents, but I don’t think too many expect him to have a significant impact in the NHL. I hope this piece helps to create some excitement around Leipsic, as I’m very excited to see his skillset in the NHL next season.

The Rankings So Far

  • Harte of a Lion

    100% Agreed. For me Leipsic is honestly within top 6/7, right side by side with guys like Johnson and Brown. This guy’s skating is fantastic, looks absolutely effortless out there. I truly believe that this guy is going to be a very good NHL player, and could even be a 20 goal scorer/40 point guy at some point in his career.

  • Harte of a Lion

    If Brendan Leipsic was a few inches taller/bigger, I may have considered having him as a top 20 prospect. The reason I never included him on my top 20 list was the leafs are littered with small skilled players, where the perception is guys like Marner, Bracco, Brown and Timashov (to name a few) are ahead of Leipic.

    Furthermore based on the 2016 draft, the Leafs addressed their prospect size issue and went big, otherwise I’m sure a player like Vitali Abramov would’t have escaped Hunter’s eye. This is in contrast to the 2015 draft, where the Leafs went with the best prospect available strategy

    Therefore I feel Leipsic may get some spot duty on the big club but overall is not part of the Leafs future.

  • Harte of a Lion

    There is always a chance for some of these lower ranked player, particularly if they can win puck
    battles at the boards. A mention of a players puck battling skills would help me understand where a player is rated

  • Harte of a Lion

    54 points in 65 games in the AHL.

    People are really sleeping on this kid. He could be a Ghallagher or at least an Andrew Shaw without a big stretch of the imagination.

    Just look at his pre-NHL stats and Ghallagher’s pre-NHL stats.

    Give this kid a real 40gm+ shot!

  • magesticRAGE

    I think he could have success in the NHL, but doubt it will be with the Leafs. There’s just too many players and not enough spots, and I see others filling those spots. Nothing against him, but with Soshnikov, Kapanen, and Hyman on the cusp, and Johnson & Timashov being super close, his role on the Leafs is as good as taken.

  • magesticRAGE

    Since I’m getting trashed in my earlier post I’m put it in layman’s terms for all the smart Leaf fans out there.

    First I stated the leafs have many under 6.0″ forwards. Here is a list of smallish players I feel will play this season: Kadri, Nylander, Marner, Soshnokiv and Brown. That’s 5 of 12 forwards on the tiny side.

    Leipsic plays LW. So lets see who his competition is. You have JVR, Komorav, Rychel, Lindberg, Greening, Martin, Michalek and maybe Vesey (if he signs) . I don’t see Leipsic inserted into the line up ahead of any of these players,

    Therefore I don’t see how Leipsic will be able to establish himself with the Leafs. He may get spot duty due to injury but I don’t see how he figures into the Leafs future.

    • magesticRAGE

      First, 5’11”-6’0″ isn’t tiny. Let’s not pretend Kadri, Nylandwr and Brown are China dolls that we can’t look at wrong for fear that they’ll explode. You’re overstating the undersized angle for sure.

      But more importantly, Leipsic could easily be the 3rd best LW out of your list there, behind JVR and Komarov. Let’s see how he does in camp hmmm?

      • magesticRAGE

        In NHL terms under under 6’0 is on the small side. I agree they aren’t “China Dolls” but for 6’0 and under..BUILD wise they are on the small size. This is the reason Babcock stated we’re getting pushed around.

        In regards to Leipsic being 3rd best that is a reach. While I know some contracts could get moved, mainly Machalek and maybe Greening, Martin, Rychel, and Lindberg will be playing ahead of Leipsic. Yes because size and toughness matters, even in today’s NHL.

        Yes we’ll see how camp goes for Leipsic but all indications are he’ll be buried.