Even though he hasn’t dressed for the team yet, all eyes were on the recently acquired Brendan Leipsic after today’s game between the Toronto Marlies and the Binghamton Senators. That caught him a bit off guard, but he took the time to speak to the media regardless. “It’s cool.” said Leipsic of the surprise scrum. “You know, coming from Milwaukee, [there’s] obviously not too much media attention like Toronto.”
While it was just a matter of time before Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli were sent to greener pastures, it’s not often that prospects sent in these big trade packages are made aware of their fate in advance. In Leipsic’s case, it was sudden. “I found out yesterday morning. I was just lying in bed, and got a call from our GM, who said I was traded to Toronto. I called my parents, who were actually in town, so I just packed up my apartment and headed on the road.” It’s a sudden enough move that he hasn’t been in touch with Dave Nonis yet (Nonis, by the way, was at today’s game, spending time with Flames assistant GM Brad Pascall).
Regardless, he’s still excited about being a member of the organization. “It’s an original six team, and they’ve got a young core here that they’re trying to build [upon]. I’m excited to be a part of it.” I asked him if he had any particular teammates he was looking forward to playing with, but he was pretty non-committal in that regard. “They have a lot of young, skilled guys here. But really, just trying to get into practice, get my feet wet here with the Marlies.”
Leipsic also addressed some of the discussion about where he projects to be. “I’ve been compared to those guys ever since my draft year, but I’d like to carve my own path.” he said of the suggested parallels to Brad Marchand and Brendan Gallagher. “Those are great guys to compare to, but I just want to be my own player. But those are obviously great guys, smaller guys who have had a lot of success in the NHL, so they’re people to look up to.”
As for the “most annoying prospect in hockey” label he was given by The Hockey News this year, Leipsic didn’t appear to be a fan. “People say I’m an annoying prospect, but I think I play the game the right way. I’ve come a long way from junior.” He was, of course, one of the best players in Junior Hockey after being drafted, including a 120 point season in the WHL in 2012/13. This year, on the other hand, has been all about adjustment to the professional game.
“You have less time with the puck, less time to make plays. You have to be smart with your puck decisions in the neutral zone. It’s huge.” It’s nothing that he didn’t expect, though. “There’s a lot of ups, there’s a lot of downs. It’s my first pro hockey season. There’s been times where the puck hasn’t gone in the net, and there’s times where it has. I’m learning, and it’s a process. Just taking it day by day.”
While his ultimate ambition is to build chemistry with his new teammates and jump up with them to the National Hockey League, he’s also looking at the present. For now, it’s all about contributing to his new team. “The way I was playing this year, trying to bring that to the Marlies here. I’m just going to try to help them with the last thirty games or so.”
Leipsic is expected to make his debut with the Marlies on Friday, when they take on the Utica Comets.