ARLINGTON, Va. -- Brett Leason is looking to follow his breakout season in the Western Hockey League by focusing this offseason on taking the next step in his professional hockey career.
And that begins with the 20-year-old Washington Capitals forward prospect hitting the weight room.
"I think just strength is the main thing for me," Leason said during Capitals development camp in June. "I was playing against younger guys and I think everybody here will be older than me and all built into their bodies. So I think this summer's going to be really important for me. I've just got to keep training every single day on and off the ice."
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Leason (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) was chosen by Washington in the second round (No. 56) of the 2019 NHL Draft after not being selected in 2017 or 2018. He's projected to begin this season with Hershey of the American Hockey League.
"Our cupboard was getting a little thin and now we get a kid, instead of waiting two years to get him in our system he's in our system within months," Capitals director of player development Steve Richmond said. "So that's a bonus. And obviously he can play.
"He's got two months now to get on a [strength] program we're putting him on and it will be exciting to see his progress throughout the year."
Leason was eighth in the WHL last season with 89 points (36 goals, 53 assists) in 55 games with Prince Albert, and was second in the playoffs with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 22 games to help Prince Albert win the league championship.
That came after a 2017-18 season when he had 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 66 WHL games for Tri-City and Prince Albert.
"I think I just really built into my body, found my stride," Leason said of his improvement. "I always had the skill. My skating was one of my downfalls and over the summer I worked on that and it kind of created everything else."
At the 2019 Draft in Vancouver, Leason received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence, presented by the NHL to a prospect who best exemplifies commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.
Leason signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals on July 11.
"He always had the hockey sense," Washington assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said. "He always had the skill. He was kind of tall and lanky. Just a classic late bloomer. It happens every once in a while.
"Two or three years from now he's going to be a big package. He'll be hard to handle."
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