The Key Stat: 36. When Brett Leason started his season in Hershey slowly, going 1-0-1, plus-2, in his first five games, few might have thought he would be among the earliest call-ups from the Bears for the Washington Capitals. And few would have foreseen his dressing for 36 games this season. But the big winger ended up being a fixture in the lineup upon his recall to the Caps after an injury to T.J. Oshie in October, dressing for 23 of 26 games in the 2021 portion of the season after his call-up. He ended up dressing for 36 games for the season, more than any Capitals rookie forward except Connor McMichael. It was an unexpected turn for Leason and the Caps, who might not have envisioned him breaking into the lineup this season, but injuries provide opportunities, and this season would be one for Leason.
The Good: One consideration that is sometimes an issue with rookies is their attention to detail on defense. Leason was one of the few rookies for the Caps this season who was thrown into the deep end of the pool, earning only 43.2 percent of his zone starts in the offensive end. Only three of the Caps’ 11 rookie skaters to dress this season had fewer. And, acknowledging that he skated mostly fourth line minutes, there was little damage to the Caps at even strength when he was on the ice. Opponents managed 0.028 goals per even strength minute when he was on the ice, fewest of any Caps rookie appearing in at least ten games. And for what it is worth, he did have nine takeaways to four giveaways. The JFresh charts above suggest that his defensive game might be ahead of his offensive game at this stage.
The Bad: There is uncertainty about his offense. He was not especially impactful in his rookie campaign (3-3-6, plus-1, in 36 games), not that he was expected to be when the season started. But his performance leading up to this season has been uneven. He did record 51 goals in 109 regular season games over his last two seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League, 36 of them in 56 games in 2018-2019 before the Caps drafted him in the second round of the 2019 draft. Upon graduating to Hershey, he posted only 18 goals in 114 games over three seasons. Leason has been described as “[a] big, quality scoring forward with upside.” Caps fans will have to wait to see if that upside is to be realized.
The Discussion: Leason’s rookie season was one born of opportunity arising from an injury to a teammate. Did he show enough in his 36 games to be considered a contender for a roster spot in 2022-2023 on the merits of his play? If so, what would his role be? But first things first. Leason is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights who carried an $842,500 cap hit in 2021-2022. Did his performance as a rookie, or does his potential merit an extension with a raise? And finally, what would it take for you to give Leason a 10 next season?
The Vote: Rate Brett Leason below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
How do you rate Brett Leason’s 2021-22 season?
This poll is closed