With the 10th overall selection in the 2020 Bantam draft, the Vancouver Giants selected defenseman Mazden Leslie.
Leslie plays under head coach Kyle Tapp with the Lloydminster Bobcats. Tapp describes him as a “new age defenceman”. This refers to defenceman who can take over games offensively through their creative ability in the offensive zone. According to Tapp, “If you are a fan of Quinn Hughes, Bowen Byram, and Cale Makar, then you are going to be a big fan of Leslie”.
Although it is early, Leslie is considered a potential top 10 pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Giants’ fans are going to love what Leslie brings to the table. He will look to follow in the footsteps of other Giants’ defenseman drafted in the first round of the NHL draft like Byram, Jonathon Blum, and Mark Fistric.
The Vancouver Giants are thrilled to announce that they've signed defenceman Mazden Leslie to a @TheWHL Standard Player Agreement. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
Details 📎: https://t.co/rlJZqDwCaK
Welcome to Vancouver Mazden! pic.twitter.com/H1ztA2DPbQ
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 30, 2020
Leslie is a high-end defenceman who excels in the offensive zone due to his playmaking ability. At 6-foot-1 and 181 pounds, he has great size for a 15-year-old. Leslie also possesses a great shot that allows him to score from anywhere on the ice. He is an exciting prospect especially considering the Giants will need to replace the offense previously provided by Bowen Byram. Leslie has all the tools to succeed in the WHL. Giants fans are going to love Leslie’s play when he makes the full-time jump to the Giants as a 16-year-old.
Leslie’s biggest strength is his offensive creativity and ability to put the puck in the net. In 2018-2019, he put up 23 goals and 27 assists in 33 games at the U15 level. At the time, Leslie was 13 playing against older competition. Since making the jump to the U18 level as a 14-year-old, Leslie has shown he can continue to produce. He put up 12 points in 32 games last season including five goals. This season before the pause, Leslie was averaging over a point per game with six points in four games.
— CCM Hockey (@CCMHockey) September 3, 2020
Leslie continues to get better and show he can compete at every level. The Giants will need that next-generation type of player with the loss of Bowen Byram. Leslie can fill that role on the powerplay and has the potential to put up big points in the WHL. He is fearless when it comes to his offensive game and with his size, he should be a massive threat for years to come.
Leslie still needs to develop his defensive game and making the simple play. This is common when it comes to younger players who are taking that next step from U15 to U18. Playing against older competition where the play is faster and requires an adjustment period. Luckily, Leslie has shown that commitment to developing this side of his game. With more time, Leslie’s play in his defensive zone will improve and he will be a force on the backend for the Giants.
The Lloydminster Bobcats play in the Alberta Elite Hockey League U18 division. Lloydminster has a rich history of success in what was the AMHL having won the championship in 2015-2016. They also have a distinguished group of alumni which include Carson Soucy, Kale Clague, and 2018 CHL Defenseman of the Year and back-to-back WHL Defenseman of the Year, Ty Smith. The Bobcats ensure that their players develop great teamwork on and off the ice. Ensuring that these players know how to be great teammates ensures that they will be set up for success in the future.
Leslie has the potential to be a star in the WHL. He has that raw offensive talent that is so prevalent in the newer generation of defensemen entering the NHL. Leslie’s size and strength will also play a huge factor in his success with the Giants. This is a prospect Giants fans should get excited about. With some more development that will come from playing against older competition, Leslie should make the jump to the Giants in his 16-year-old season. Depending on the rules and schedule for this season, do not be surprised if Leslie gets a shot as in most years, 15-year-olds can play up to five games. Although the expectations are high, it looks like Leslie is ready to take on the challenge and join the list of Lloydminster Bobcats to have success in the WHL.
WHL Future Stars 🎥 pic.twitter.com/vIhGC0au7f
— The WHL (@TheWHL) April 25, 2020