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Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25: #16 Chase De Leo

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In the blogosphere rankings system, the people are represented by two separate and rather unequally important groups: the prospects who play the game, and the fanboy hacks who opine and speculate. These are their stories. Dun dun.

Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

Rank

DOB

Drafted

Pos

Allan

Andy

Philip

Daniel

Ryan

Cara

Ian

Brian

Tim

16

1995/10/25

#99, 2014

C

18

12

12

18

18

15

13

20

21

Previous Rank: 21st

It still gives me bouts of glee how the Jets managed to draft De Leo 99th overall, considering he was ranked 40th by The Hockey Writers, 48th by The Hockey News, 52nd by Future Considerations, 55th by Craig Button, 67th by McKeen's, and 36th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

If I'm looking to have an agitating presence in the prospect pipeline, I want him to be the kind of skilled package Chase De Leo provides. He's a fast and sly force on the ice, one adept at both making a play and finishing it. While lacking in size at 5'10" and 182 lbs, De Leo always puts himself in the middle of the action, whether it's a goalmouth scramble or battling in the corners. Never fear, old-school hockey folks: despite his soft hands, he ranks highly on the #gritchart.

Stats:

In the 2013-14 regular season, De Leo's 81 points in 72 games ranked a respectable 19th in total points among all players, and 9th among U19 skaters. He posted 84 points in 67 games during the 2014-15 regular season, which saw him rise to 12th in total points among all players, while falling to 10th in total points among his U20 peers. De Leo also led the league in power play goals, with 18; the next closest on Portland was Bjorkstrand with 10.

De Leo's limited point totals increase can be couched by the fact that Nic Petan was directly ahead of him on the centre depth chart. This also meant Petan regularly played with the team's top-flight wingers in Paul Bittner and Oliver Bjorkstrand, whereas De Leo more often skated with players such as Keegan Iverson and Evan Weinger. Considering this, De Leo did well.

AIH Authors' Thoughts:

Andrew:

Grinder! At 5'9", plays like a much larger player. Has a shot at 4th line duty, but will have to beat out the likes of Andrew Copp to get there.

Brian:

Chase De Leo has the same question surrounding him as Nic Petan: his size. However, he plays with a lot more grit and could be a lot better suited for the NHL game. After a few seasons with the Moose, De Leo will be ready to make an NHL impact.

Ian:

Petan 2.0 or junior, depending on how you want to put it. Great hands, can put the puck in the net but size will also be a big question mark regarding future success.

Philip:

De Leo is the kind of prospect who makes you sit up in your seat. To me, size concerns are more than offset by everything he brings to the table. Tenacity, speed, agility, soft hands and a well-rounded game all come together to make him an extremely dangerous package. He has no problem operating under pressure in tight spaces, with or without the puck. He plays the game at a fast pace, and can be the player coaches send out there to set the tempo and get the team "into it".

I may be a man on an island here, but I see no reason why his ceiling can't be that of a Brad Marchand, which is to say an undersized, agitating top-six player, overflowing with effort and capable of playing in all situations. It's a lofty projection I'll admit, but I think he has the tools to make it happen. Having said that, I'd like to see him spend a year or three in the AHL. We need to see his elusiveness at the next level, and to what degree his offensive game carries over as well.

Outside Sources:

The Hockey News:

Assets: Is strong on his skates for an undersized forward, and he plays a feisty brand of hockey too. Can put up plenty of offensive numbers at lower levels.

Flaws: Can he continue to play the role of super-pest in the NHL as his size? The jury is still out. If he can't, will he be able to score enough? Maybe not.

Potential: Agitating energy grinder with some upside.

Hockey's Future:

A premiere junior forward due in part to elite skating ability, he is a confident puck-carrier who is not hesitant to shoot the puck. He has a nose for the net and is not afraid of heavy traffic. While concerns about his size likely caused him to slide a bit in the draft, he has been extremely productive skating for a junior hockey powerhouse team.

A pure scorer at the junior level, De Leo relies on his speed and skating ability to avoid vulnerable spots on the ice. He will likely have to add some bulk to compete at the pro level but his understanding of the game and scoring instincts compare favorably with most prospects coming out of junior hockey.

Cat Silverman, Today's Slapshot:

Although he’s a deviation from the immense size seen out of the Jets at the moment, de Leo plays a style that slots in with his new NHL club perfectly — he’s gritty but poised, always keeping an eye on the play and seeming to analyze what every possible move the opposition could make.

He’s equally effective in the corners and on open ice, facing an oncoming rush and contributing to a push to the net by his own team — although he doesn’t have the characteristic ‘grace’ or mind-blowing scoresheet that one traditionally looks for in a 200 foot player, that’s the best way to describe his game.

Winterhawks head coach and GM Jamie Kompon, via the Winnipeg Sun:

The best thing about him is how tenacious he is. He is a driven individual, his engine just keeps going...I threw different elements at Chase and no matter who I put him with this season, he produced. He was the guy that was the catalyst. If someone was struggling, you could put him with Chase and his work ethic and determination and how hard he competes, that wore off on that player and got them going. It ignited them.

I think Chase has a real bright future because he can play so many different roles. He takes a lot of pride in his penalty kill, he led the league in power-play goals and he's got the ability to score big goals and critical times. And in late-game situations, he's out there. If you need him to take a draw, he takes the draw. If you need him on left wing, he plays left wing. He's that Swiss Army knife.

Video:

Summary:

And so Chase De Leo will begin his professional hockey career this season with the Manitoba Moose, again being joined by his longtime Portland Winterhawks teammate Nic Petan. Many eyes will be looking to see how De Leo adapts his game against men at a pro level, especially given his lack of size. At the very least, we know he has good hands and an NHL pledge with Eric Comrie to keep.

What do you folks think we should expect from De Leo, both next year and long-term? Thanks for reading, and be sure to share your thoughts in the Comments below.