The Amherst native was selected eighth overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2023 NHL Draft.
Leonard played at Pope Francis for two years before joining the USA National Team Development Program. He became just one of nine NTDP players to put up 50 goals in a season after scoring . 51 goals and 43 assists in 57 games played in 2022-23.
Leonard also had a 22-game point streak during his last season. He scored the overtime winner in the gold medal game against Sweden at the U18 World Championships, a tournament in which he had 17 points.
He will play at Boston College before playing professional hockey.
At 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, Leonard is a power forward while also being a playmaker on the ice. He can play along the boards which has made him a tough matchup for his opponents. Leonard has a hard shot which has proven helpful with scoring abilities, says Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet. He is one of the most defensively responsible forwards in the draft according to NHL.com.
“My competitiveness, that’s just who I am,” Leonard said about what Capital fans should be excited about.
He spent most of his time at wing for the NTDP but Leonard started out as a center. With his playing style, he is a strong contender to be on the ice for power plays and penalty kills. His ability to win puck battles is what has made him dangerous when on power plays.
Leonard has compared himself to Matthew Tkachuk, who is known both for scoring and antagonizing opponents.
His NTDP linemate Will Smith went to the San Jose Sharks at No. 4.
His brother, John Leonard, who starred at UMass, currently plays in the Nashville Predators system and played 58 games with the Sharks before that. Ryan and John train together in the off-season with Springfield native and Ducks forward Frank Vatrano and Toronto goalie prospect Keith Petruzzelli.
Leonard will have a chance to play with a highly respected veteran player, Alexander Ovechkin. “Hopefully he doesn’t hit me with a one-timer in practice or anything like that,” Leonard joked.