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Capitals Prospects

WHN’s Top Capitals Prospects: Ryan Leonard, Dynamic Winger, Takes No. 1 Spot



Ryan Leonard puts on a Washington Capitals jersey after being picked by the team during the first round of the NHL hockey draft Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

In preparation for the 2023-24 season, Washington Hockey Now staff have compiled a list of the top 10 Washington Capitals prospects. The final rankings are based on the research and discussions of WHN staff.

No. 1: Ryan Leonard, RW

Age: 18; Ht-Wt: 6-0, 190; Shoots: Right; Drafted: 1st round, 2023.

The Washington Capitals didn’t have to look long for game film highlighting Ryan Leonard’s competitive drive.

Two months before the Capitals made the winger the No. 8 pick in the 2023 draft, he scored the golden goal in overtime of the IIHF U18 World Championship, securing the United States’ 11th title.

Arguably one of the most competitive prospects in the 2023 draft, Leonard backs up that mindset on the ice with efficient skating skills, stellar puck skills and an above-average shot — making him the Capitals’ top prospect heading into the 2023-24 season.

“He’s got a real interesting skillset … he’s a very competitive guy,” Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said of Leonard, “so I think to be able to get that scoring ability, the playmaking ability and that edge that he plays with I think is a real interesting combination.”

On a deeply-talented U18 roster with the U.S. Development Team Program, his 94 points — 51 goals, 43 assists — ranked him the third-highest offensive producer. He was bested only by Gabriel Perreault (132 points) and Will Smith (127), the draft’s 23rd- and fourth-overall picks, respectively.

With the national program in the rearview, Leonard — along with five of his USNDTP teammates — enter their freshman seasons at Boston College this fall, giving the Golden Eagles the top collegiate recruiting class, according to Neutral Zone. But when it comes to making the jump to pro hockey, Leonard said he will be patient before deciding to make the change.


Regular Season Stats via HockeyDB

Where Is He Playing This Year?

Leonard is part of Boston College’s highly-touted recruiting class, which includes Team USA teammates Will Smith and Gabriel Perreault, among others.

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.