With the 182 selection of the NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks chose John Leonard, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound left winger from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Sharks acquired the 182 pick in February when they traded Troy Grosenick and Brandon Bollig to the Nashville Predators.
A native of Amherst, Leonard led UMass in points during his freshman season with 13 goals and 15 assists in 33 games. The 19 year-old had previously played two seasons for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, where he notched 43 points over 106 games.
According to UMass Hockey’s Twitter page, Leonard is the first freshman to be drafted from the program since a certain Justin Braun went 201 overall at the 2007 draft. It’s likely that Leonard will return to the Minutemen next season and sign a pro contract in the next year or so.
Scoring at nearly a point per game pace as a college freshman is an impressive statline, and with the right training he’s sure to improve those totals. Keeping him in the NCAA for the time being will benefit the Sharks, who already have a number of solid left wingers to choose from at both the NHL and AHL levels. Having Leonard earn top minutes at UMass for the next couple years is going to be huge for his development, and also saves Doug Wilson that sweet salary cap money.