Inside The Sharks Signing Two NCAA Prospects

April 3, 2020

In this time of Quarantine during the giant COVID-19 pandemic and sports all over the earth being cancelled, postponed, or moved, there is one thing that stays consistent. There are still deals going on.

Just a few weeks after the NCAA Hockey tournament was cancelled, prospects started agreeing to contracts with new teams if they went undrafted, or the team they got drafted by. 

Those were both the case for the San Jose Sharks just last Tuesday. 

They first agreed to terms with UMass forward John Leonard, a 2 year deal worth $925,000. Leonard was drafted in the 6th round, number 182 overall by the Sharks from the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers back in 2018. In his 3 years with the Minutemen, he appeared in 105 games, scoring 56 goals along with 49 assists, with his junior season this season being his career year in terms of goals with 27. He was named “Sharks Prospect of the Week” twice within a 14 day span in 2020, after he scored 2 hat tricks 2 weeks apart, once in 5-1 win over Providence, and again on the road at UMass Lowell in a 5-3 win. He was also a finalist for the Hobey Baker award, which is awarded to the top NCAA hockey player, similar to NCAA football’s Heisman Trophy. Leonard has a shot of making the roster once the NHL season comes back, if not, he will most likely be playing for the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks AHL affiliate. 

General manager of the Sharks Doug Wilson gave his thoughts of signing Leonard in a press release. 

“John is a high-end shooter who is creative with the puck,” said Wilson. “He took big steps in both his fitness level and all-around game and became one of the most dominant offensive players in college hockey this season. We are excited to see his continued growth as a member of the Sharks organization”, Wilson said.

The second prospect they agreed to terms with is Arizona State defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk. He also signed a 2 year deal worth $925,000. Pasichnuk went undrafted, but played for the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL)’s Bonnyville Pontiacs prior to his ASU career. With the Sun Devils, he captained the team for two out of his four years, scoring 39 goals and 68 assists, with his senior season in 2019 being his career high for points, with 37 points in 36 games — just over a point per game. In doing research on Pasichnuk, I found out that he was, according to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,  “One of the most coveted college free agents of this year’s cohort”. Like Leonard, he also has a chance of making the roster, and will most likely play with the Barracuda if he doesn’t make a roster spot.

Doug Wilson also gave his thoughts on the signing of Pasichnuk.

“Brinson is an excellent puck moving defenseman with a physical brand of hockey,” said Wilson. “As captain for the Sun Devils program for two seasons under Arizona State Head Coach Greg Powers, he is a great teammate and proven leader. We are happy to have him join our organization.” 

These two signings are just two of many signings that are happening around the NHL, despite the season being paused. There is no word on whether the Sharks will sign more prospects, but we’ll just have to see.

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