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2015 Top 25 Under 25, #17: Zac Leslie

2013 Kings draftee Zac Leslie hopes to take his talents to Ontario, California, this year, and prove he can succeed above the junior-hockey level.

David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

The Kings drafted Zac Leslie in the 6th round of the 2013 draft.  Here’s what he’s done before and since:

Ranked at #25 last year, Leslie used his solid work ethic and puck-moving skills to jump 8 spots to #17 on this year’s list.  He performed admirably at development camp last year, but couldn’t crack the Monarchs roster and returned to Guelph for a fourth straight season.  Playing against OHL competition while being one year older led some to feel Leslie was primed for a third big step forward following successful 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 campaign.  But while he didn’t regress, his 57-game, 48-point season wasn’t a huge improvement over the 50 points he put up in 60 games the previous season.  A shoulder injury in March ended Leslie’s season prematurely.

So what should we expect from Leslie this season? Well, I don’t really know because hockey is a crapshoot.  And frankly, this is the 17th-ranked player under the age of 25 in an organization that doesn’t have a lot of good players under the age of 25 (who aren’t already on the NHL roster).  But here’s what we do know: Leslie has, by most accounts, above-average speed and can shoot a little.  He’s an offensive-minded defenseman who L.A. brass feels has a good head on his shoulders and can become a play-making, puck-advancing blueliner.  (This is where I should make a lazy Alec Martinez comparison, but I won't...but I just did.)

Right now, Leslie’s to-do list is pretty short:

  1. Recover successfully from offseason shoulder surgery.
  2. Make the Ontario Reign squad.

If those two things happen this year (which is far from a lock given the abundance of decent defensemen likely to be jamming up the Reign roster), Leslie will have the opportunity to take another step forward and show us a little bit more of what he’s got.  Until then, he’ll have to settle for number 17.