For a coach in major junior, there is no greater blessing than depth.
For a draft eligible forward it can be a hindrance, something 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible forward Brendon Leipsic knows too well.
Leipsic plays for Mike Johnston and the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, the same club that had to cancel a preseason game in September due to 15 players being away at National Hockey League training camps. Few teams boast the depth Portland has been blessed with.
Though the most noticeable of them – Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders’ Nino Niederreiter – never returned to the Winterhawks, Leipsic is finding it harder than most of his peers to get noticed on the perpetually strong Portland squad.
“You always want to play your best and maybe you aren’t getting the most ice time, but playing as a team and when the team starts to win you’ll get noticed more,” Leipsic said.
Leipsic hopes that’s true. His club currently sits third in the WHL’s Western Conference. The native of Winnipeg, MB. has managed seven goals and 13 points while skating in 22 of his team’s 27 contests, ninth on the team in scoring.
That may be the hindrance for Leipsic. The blessing comes with having someone always pushing him, said the five-foot-nine, 175-pound centre.
“It brings out the best in everybody,” Leipsic said. “There’s always a guy in front of you or behind you pushing for the ice time.”
Then there’s the matter of having the experience of watching plenty of teammates get drafted over the course of the last two seasons. It’s a luxury that Leipsic admits will help him throughout his season and into June’s Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.
“Obviously last year with all the drafted guys and this year with Brad Ross and Ty Rattie who know what it takes to get drafted, it’s pretty cool,” Leipsic said.
Perhaps Ross in particular, who Leipsic has skated with on a consistent basis this season. Ross was selected 43rd overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010 based on his aggressive style and ability to get under the opponents skin. Leipsic shares both those traits and could very well find himself selected in the same region as his teammate.
“I think we compliment each other pretty well,” Leipsic said. “We like to play physical, try to agitate.”
Which may be the angle that garners Leipsic the most attention when it comes to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!