Flames Let Joey Leach Walk



We speculated about this last week, but it was confirmed today by Pat Steinberg that the Flames have decided to walk away from third rounder Joey Leach.

Even given Leach’s lack of offense and heavy feet, it’s a somewhat surprising decision. The 20-year old progressed relatively well during his time in the WHL, moving from a 20-point, middle pairing defender in his draft season, to a top-pairing 40+ point guy this year.

It’s unclear whether the move not to sign Leach is due entirely to his skillset, or some other factors, including whether the player wasn’t entirely interested in playing for the organization. It’s rare for mid-round prospects to play hard ball with the club that chose them, but it happens.

Leach will go back into the draft this June.

  • MC Hockey

    So he’s 6’4, 200 lbs (a bit light for the height), he seems to be improving, can play shut down defense and also contribute on offense….sounds terrible (LOL).

    Say What? I think the Flames could use this guy in the future….I wonder if personality or behavioral issues came into play here.

    Or perhaps he seems too much like someone Darryl Sutter would have drafted because he’s from Sask and plays in the WHL?

    Read up on him at Hockey’s Future or WHL (for counting stats) on him…does not look so bad. Whatever!!!

  • Leach may have been the victim of the numbers game. In terms of AHL defenders, the club has Brady Lamb, Brett Carson, James Martin, Chris Breen, Joe Piskula and Clay Wilson signed for next year (Wilson may be in Calgary), while Brian Connelly is thought to be signed (based on Weisbrod’s comments on the FAN960). Jordan Henry may or may not be re-signed. That’s seven or eight minor-league defenders right there.

    After that, John Ramage and Tyler Wotherspoon turn pro for 2013-14 and both may have better upside than Leach.

  • RexLibris

    If I’m correct in this, the Flames should get a compensatory 4th round pick this year then, something in the range of #103 overall.

    Unless, of course, Feaster trades it away. 😉

    This looks like one more nail in the Darryl Sutter draft coffin. A third round pick spent on an unsigned prospect. Looking at the draft list there weren’t a lot of other players in that third round range that the Flames could be said to have passed on. Not that it makes it any easier today.

  • everton fc

    Ryan’s probably right. And I don’t think they re-sign Henry.

    And if the big club signs a defender or two… Babchuk may be headed to Abby, as well.

    To me, not a huge loss….

  • BurningSensation

    There strike me as several possibilities;

    – Flames brass didn’t like him for footspeed reasons (most likely scenario IMO)

    – Flames brass had some other reason for not liking him (wring friends, uncoachable, Cam Barker disease, what have you)

    – Leach wanted out

    – Logjam ahead of him pushed him so far down the depth chart it made sense to let him go

    Or most likely of all, a combination of all of the above.

    I admit to being somewhat surprised as I thought Leach’s arrows were pointing in the right direction. I highly doubt that who drafted him played any role in the decision.

  • Clearly they don’t need him in the AHL, and they don’t foresee him playing in the NHL any time soon. Why waste a contract?

    Could he go to another organization and make us look like fools? Sure. Is that likely? Clearly the Flames scouting staff doesn’t think so.

    The overall success rate for 3rd round picks is marginal at best. This isn’t a huge loss.

  • Graham

    The Flames need to be realistic about their prospects, lower round draft picks are clearly
    on the clock. They only have a limited time to shine, show growth potential vs other picks, or its time to move on.

    Nothing wrong with a regular ‘pruning’ to remove the marginal contracts. And in some case, nothing wrong with pruning marginal first and second rounders either. (Chucko and the numerous other marginal first round picks come to mind).

  • Tach

    @ RexLibris and @Ryan Pike

    as per 8.3(b) of the CBA Ryan has it right:

    In the event a Club loses its draft rights to an Unsigned Draft Choice drafted in the first round of the Entry Draft (except as a result of failing to tender a required Bona Fide Offer (as defined below)), who is again eligible for the Entry Draft or becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, a Compensatory Draft Selection shall automatically be granted to that Club

  • Tach

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if number of contracts comes into play here. Why waste a contract on a guy if you think he has little hope of beeing more than a tweener. Especially if you are having a personality conflict or something.

    • I see what you’re saying, but outside of the 20-guys on the NHL team and a few notable exceptions like Baertschi, the vast majority of the Flames pro contracts are with tweeners.

      Seems odd to draw the line at Joey Leach. To me at least.

  • RexLibris

    @Tach and Ryan

    I stand, thankfully, corrected.

    So, failing to sign that vaunted 7th round pick doesn’t result in keeping the whole draft class around for one more extra draft inning the following June? Darn.

    That would have been a good draft strategy: draft some fictional “Tsujimoto” character, fail to sign him, then get another pick in the next draft. Scouts could even fabricate a FB page to make it appear as though the “prospect” existed.

    Sounds like something Burke might try.

  • RexLibris

    YAY INTELLECTUAL HONESTY! (on a 20yr old yet to be given a pro opportunity versus an older player already given that opportunity and yet to make anything of it COUGH*BREEN*COUGH)

    I think attitude and Leach’s own view of his spot on the depth chart factored in. The Flames acquired a ton of defensemen in the past year and a half (Connelly, Smith, Carson, Martin etc)

    Its spilled milk. We didnt sign Jarret Stoll either. No use overanalyzing it as it happens to every team in the league. Looking at Leach’s draft year, the Flames still look like they could have made out like bandits with Reinhart, Ferland, and turning Holland into Cammalleri.

    If I remember correctly, didnt FN do an article on Todd Button recently and the percentage of his picks that turned pro with the organization? Even losing Leach this percentage from the draft two years ago seems very respectable.

  • Colin.S

    I disagree with this move. We have 35 total contracts for next season, PLUS 8 RFAs(5 of which should be resigned, MAX). So we have about 40 players under contract. We are going to need to pick up 5 or so forwards probably so 45 total contracts at the most as of UFA period, yeah it would suck going into the year with 46 or 47.

    Feaster wants his own prospects I guess, but really James Martin? Turner Elson? and other guys he signed last year, I’d rather have a try on Joey Leach.

    For Leach’s sake I hope he gets picked up somewhere and becomes an NHLer and sticks it to the Flames.

  • Why let Joey Leach go, a guy who has shown improvement in his time in the WHL, and keep a similar player like Chris Breen? Leach projects to be a defensive depth defenseman if he ever reaches the NHL (which isn’t a lock by an means, but still…) while Breen projects to be the same thing, but is a couple years older than Leach. It doesn’t make sense to me. Why is Leach losing a potential contract anyways? Sure, he hasn’t been the Brayden Mcnabb replacement that Ice desperatley needed, but he was still played like their top defenseman. I know it’s not that big a deal, since Leach isn’t a blue-chip prospect, but he was still a prospect that had shown growth in his development and earned a ELC, IMO. I’d rather have a guy like Leach in the system than guys like Piskula, Breen, and Brady Lamb.

  • supra steve

    If Feaster were to trade a high priced player or 2, the assets that would be coming back to the Flames would surely eat up more then the one or two outgoing contracts. I’m hoping that this is one reason for trimming the numbers.

  • supra steve

    Really puzzling the direction the team is taking with prospects. They seem to be gravitating toward mid to late 20 players Connelly, Wilson, Piskula who cannot play ain the NHL and have little upside development given their age or college players who at 22 have 2 years of development above the oldest junior player.

    By all accounts Leachis a good character, one of the top shut down defensemand with a high +/- with a bit of offense.

    I guess the Wilson’s and Connelly’s etc make your AHL team look good but doesn’t stock the prospect shelves.

    We will see I guess but confused and puzzled.

  • Sobueno

    @John F

    see, but the thing is that leach is probably going to be one of those guys – an ahl/nhl tweener that’ll never take a big step forward.

    why waste development space, time or money on a player like that? may as well sign guys who can play at that level right now for cheaper and shorter periods of time, because they’re a bigger benefit to the team as a whole while also being less “costly”.

  • supra steve

    Can’t really buy that thinking. A 20 year old who is big and defensive can still take strides and develop and become a Hal Gill type. Stocking your development system with good AHL 26-28 year olds who have no more upside seems counter intuitive to developing players.
    Those types are a dime a dozen.