The San Jose Sharks bolstered their organizational depth in the crease on Friday, and signed 19-year-old Czech goaltender Josef Korenar to a three-year, entry-level contract, the team announced.
"Josef is a goaltender that has been on our radar for a while now, following his success with HC Dukla Jihlava in the Czech league and with Lincoln of the United States Hockey League last season, and he really cemented his status at our development camp this summer," Sharks Assistant General Manager Joe Will said in a statement on Friday. "We like his hockey IQ, as well as his athleticism, and strongly considered selecting him in the 2017 NHL Draft, but are happy we were able to add him to our incoming group of prospects this summer. We would like to thank Lincoln General Manager John Hull for his help throughout the process."
Last season, Korenar started 32 games for Lincoln. He finished second in the league in save percentage (.925), and was 14-11-2. He spent the previous three seasons playing in his native Czech Republic, and has represented his country at the under-16, under-17, and under-18 levels, including at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. The netminder was expected to start this season as Lincoln’s starter, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
"We are extremely excited and happy that Josef has earned this opportunity while playing in Lincoln," Hull told the Journal Star. "It speaks volumes to the caliber of play in the USHL and how players in the league are viewed by NHL scouts. We have to continue to attract skilled and high-character players to our organization and having players sign NHL contracts will help us continue to do this."
Korenar attended last week’s development camp as one of four goalies participating on a tryout basis. He’s the second goaltender the Sharks have signed this offseason, after they signed Antoine Bibeau on the first day of free agency and did not tender a qualifying offer to goaltender Mantas Armalis. They’ve also been linked to Army goalie Parker Gahagen, who also attended the team’s development camp, according to Hockey Prophets’ Zachary DeVine.
San Jose now has five goaltenders under contract, including Korenar and Bibeau. The Sharks did not draft any of them, signing four (Bibeau, Korenar, Aaron Dell, and Troy Grosenick) as free agents and acquiring one (Martin Jones) in a trade. The Sharks last drafted a goaltender in the seventh round of the 2015 Draft, when the team selected current Union College goaltender Jake Kupsky. Kupsky has posted an .879 save percentage and started 19 total games over the last two seasons with Dutchmen.