The San Jose Sharks have signed college skater John Leonard to an entry-level deal. This is just the latest college signing as NHL teams stockpile depth during a time of major uncertainty in the world of hockey. The news was announced late Tuesday afternoon but details regarding length or money were not included.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 31, 2020
Sharks Sign John Leonard
The Sharks originally took the 21-year-old Leonard in the sixth round of the 2018 Draft. Leonard has been playing with UMass-Amherst since 2017-18 with excellent results at the NCAA level. He had scored 27 goals and 37 points in 33 games before the global pandemic shut down hockey operations across most of the world. Leonard had 56 goals and 105 points in 106 college games overall. His total points dipped a small amount in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19 but he likely would have set a new career-high had the season not been shut down. Leonard was named a Hobey Baker finalist due to his production this year.
Leonard stands just 5’11” but has enough scoring ability to make up for things. He has dominated the college level at times with an above-average shot. His skating helps him create what little space he needs to get the puck away but we won’t know how his skill translates to the pro game for another season or two.
What This Signing Means
Leonard’s ceiling might not be especially high but his floor makes up for it. His scoring ability will give him a shot to make the NHL even if his size and skating ability limit him in some ways. Leonard seems like a fine second-line product that can score in bunches.
The Sharks are in an interesting position. They have a solid core of talent but have badly underperformed in 2019-20. A slight rebuild is likely in order. Leonard might be a season or two away from the NHL but seems to have the necessary skills to be a part of the retooling process. Watch his play in the minor leagues closely.