Brett Leason is one of several players looking for a little vindication at the 2019 NHL Draft.
The 19-year-old forward with Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League who's gone undrafted in consecutive years, is a sure bet to be selected this year. He might be chosen in the first round at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).
Leason ranked eighth in scoring with 89 points (36 goals, 53 assists), second in shorthanded goals (six) and fifth in points per game (1.62) in 55 regular-season games for the Raiders this season. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound right wing is No. 25 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
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"I don't think I was fully ready (to be drafted) last year," Leason said. "I took another step in the right direction this year and everything panned out."
A trade from Tri-City to Prince Albert on Oct. 25, 2017 was what Leason needed to ignite his career. After scoring 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 81 games with Tri-City, he has 121 points (51 goals, 70 assists) in 109 regular-season games for Prince Albert.
"People questioned his skating but he's adapted to the new style of game in that he tries to do everything fast," Prince Albert coach Marc Habscheid said. "In the NHL, the difference between a 28- and 30-year-old is nothing. The difference between 17 and 19 is big because kids mature at different times and Brett was just a late bloomer."
Leason, who can play right wing or center, finished second in the CHL Top Prospects Game on-ice testing. He was first in weave agility, weave agility with puck and 30-meter forward skate.
"The coaches in Prince Albert have trusted me and they played me in all scenarios, letting me do my thing," Leason said. "It's funny how anything can change in an instant, so you just have to battle every day, work your hardest and good things can happen. I'm grateful for this chance."
Here are five other players passed over in 2018 who could be drafted in 2019 (listed alphabetically):
Luka Burzan, RW, Brandon (WHL)
Burzan (6-0, 184) finished second on the Wheat Kings with 78 points (40 goals, 38 assists) and 13 power-play goals in 68 games this season. "He has shown good speed, but wasn't always finishing when he should, and this year he improved in that area," John Williams of NHL Central Scouting said. The 19-year-old is No. 126 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
Samuel Fagemo, LW, Frolunda (SWE)
In his first full season with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, Fagemo (6-0, 190) had 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) and 23 blocked shots while averaging 13:56 of ice time in 42 games. The right-handed shot, regarded as a sniper with good offensive instincts, speed and creativity, had 10 points (six goals, four assists) and averaged 13:54 of ice time in 16 playoff games for the Indians. The 19-year-old is No. 20 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters.
Mark Kastelic, C, Calgary (WHL)
The 20-year-old right-handed shot born in Phoenix had a breakout season when he led the Hitmen with 77 points (47 goals, 30 assists), 24 power-play goals, two shorthanded goals and 255 shots on goal in 66 games. Kastelic (6-3, 213), passed over in the previous two drafts, is No. 132 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. "He's a big guy who improved his foot speed and quickness," Williams said. "He's always had skill but now he's really showing he can finish. He's a hard guy to handle at this level with his size and ability."
John Ludvig, D, Portland (WHL)
An old-school type who will stand up for teammates, Ludvig (6-0, 196) had 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 58 games for the Winterhawks. "He's proven to be one of the tougher guys in the league and is now showing he can play a solid two-way, puck-moving type of game," Williams said. Ludvig's father, Jan Ludvig, played seven NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. The 18-year-old is No. 128 in NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters.
Linus Nyman, RW, Lukko (FIN)
Nyman (5-11, 158) averaged 12:17 of ice time and had 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 52 games for Lukko in Liiga, Finland's top professional men's league. Lukko controlled 52.1 percent of all shots attempted with Nyman on the ice. The 19-year-old left-handed shot, who was passed over in two previous drafts, is a good two-way wing with good offensive instincts, hands and compete.
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