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Top 25 San Jose Sharks Under 25: No. 19 John Leonard’s upside isn’t fully realized, yet

If there is a trend among the majority San Jose Sharks‘Leading chances – or chances that the front office hopes to develop at least six mediocre players – are that they were, at some point, a long chance to get to the NHL. While John Leonard, who ranks 19th in our potential rankings, has already been given a chance at the show, his journey began in the U.S. high school prep system before joining the U.S. Hockey League, the young U.S. first-class hockey league, through Less busy for the big leagues.

Not to get too bogged down in the weeds about the differences between the USHL and the Canadian Juniors, especially since the differences in talent levels between the two systems have diminished over the years, but overall, the USHL maintains amateur status, allowing players to play for the NCAA system , Which is not a direct journey to play hockey professionally. In fact, being able to get an education while playing hockey is often considered to have a “back-up” program for NCAA hockey players – especially since if they complete all four of their degree years, they will be older than a leading talent coming to the NHL from the CHL.

When Leonard qualified for the draft before joining the 2016 NHL, he played his first season with Green Bay gamblers, scoring 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) and 10 free throws in 48 games, as well as no 48 goals. Games. Four playoff games. Of course, this show was not enough for him to be selected that summer. He turned 18 in the fall and returned to Green Bay, scoring 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists) in 58 games, ranked fourth on the team in points and tied for second in goals. Still, he came out without recruitment in the second year of his eligibility.

Like many USHL players before him, Leonard decided to commit to the NCAA, playing in the UMass-Amherst Minutemen in Eastern Hockey. Becoming a player of almost a point per game in his rookie season and leading the team in scoring with his 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) has finally started to win some attention from the winger.

The sharks – who to point out, Did not interview Leonard ahead of the draftBut selected his teammate UMass, Mario Ferraro in the second round of the previous year’s draft – used the sixth round pick in 2018 to select the winger over age, a low-risk pick for a player who could come back as easily as he could break out.

Fortunately, Leonard continued to be successful with UMass, finishing one point (56 goals, 49 assists) being exactly one point per player in 106 NCAA games for three years. In 2020, Leonard was Hobey Baker’s finalist (among a host of other honors) after leading the league with 27 goals in 33 games.

At the end of a senior year at UMass, Leonard signed a two-year initial contract with the Sharks, which includes an annual salary of $ 925,000, as well as $ 212,500 potential performance bonuses each year. When the 2021 season began in exceptional circumstances, Leonard found himself on tonight’s opening squad, playing on the team’s second line. Despite his two-point debut (two assists), Leonard’s impact in his 44-game rookie season was not really exciting, recording just 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists).

There were some bigger positive trends – especially, his defensive impact was pretty good, he cut more penalties than he took and had more takeaways than gifts, all of which were big wins for a rookie. His Corsi For percentage at 5 on 5 (ratio of unblocked shots and attempts against shots and unblocked attempts) was below 50 percent (48.15), meaning the team tried a little while on the ice. However, it is worth noting that of the 37 skaters who will take the ice for the Sharks in 2021, only seven were over 50 percent, with four of those seven playing in five or fewer games. The other three were unsurprisingly Thomas Hartl, Timo Meyer and Kevin Labank.

Still, Leonard’s lack of offense means a shorter strip ahead of this season and since he’s still exempt from giving up, he’s become the weird man, spending more time with San Jose Barracuda in the AHL while the NHL schedule is back to normal. There he saw success, scoring 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 45 games. Leonard has been at the parent club since mid-March, while the Sharks face injuries as well as a squad that no longer competes in the playoffs. As a limited free agent waiting, he was left with only a handful of games to make a mark before the start of negotiations.

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The time he spent in the college system made Leonard a much more mature player than some of his peers, which led to a strong game away from the grout – a rarity among young players. It also largely kept Leonard out of the penalty box, reaching 24 minutes in his second season at UMass, but remaining in single-digit numbers at the AHL and NHL levels.

Being a low winger forced him to rely on his speed, something the Sharks need to be willing to incorporate into their lineup. In terms of draft value, a mid-six upside to picking a sixth round is the kind of magic the organization is known for.

His time in the AHL this season allowed him more grace than the grueling 82-game schedule in the NHL, so while the task was perceived as small against a player who only played two AHL games last season, it also protected him from the inevitable second-grade slump he was tasked with On a mission with big NHL minutes again this season. A new contract in the summer after the AHL season that he can feel proud of should put Leonard on the track to make an impact soon.

Areas of improvement

Small wingers will always face the wrath of old-fashioned hockey players who think size is a better asset than speed. However, adding power to his shot will go a long way in terms of getting a sniff in the big leagues. In addition, consistent line members and finding chemistry with chin are the next step to put him in a position to continue to succeed at the highest level.

Whoever ends up negotiating his next contract will ask Leonard to play hungrier, be faster to grout and more aggressive in creating offenses. His sea legs should be stable beneath him: now is the time to prove it.

record

This is how you take advantage of a defensive guy quickly. In the initial game, Leonard gets stuck behind the play, allowing his teammates to score by holding in front of the crease. Timo Mayer cleared the grout back for waiting Leonard, who operated the planes to beat Ryan Graves for a clean break Colorado Crash Philip Grubauer network guard.

Top 25 San Jose Sharks Under 25: No. 19 John Leonard’s upside isn’t fully realized, yet Source link Top 25 San Jose Sharks Under 25: No. 19 John Leonard’s upside isn’t fully realized, yet

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