The NHL season might be suspended, but the San Jose Sharks are still adding to their roster.
Yesterday, TSN’s Frank Seravalli confirmed that Arizona State defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk had agreed to terms with the Sharks. Terms were not released and may not be for a while yet, with the season still on pause.
Correct phrase is actually "agreed to terms" with #sjsharks. There are two contract options on table - one of which includes waiting to see if first year of ELC can be burned for 2019-20, if NHL season does indeed resume.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 30, 2020
If not, then contract will begin in 2020-21.
It’s been a long road for the highly-coveted 22-year-old free agent, who went to ASU after being passed up in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. As Ken Campbell wrote in The Hockey News, Pasichnuk was “a supremely talented player who lacked discipline on and off the ice...so lost at times that he contemplated suicide.”
The Sun Devils captain found his game and religion and his wife in college, finishing 2019-20 as the third-highest scoring defenseman in the NCAA with 37 points in just 36 games. The left-handed shooter also led all blueliners with 121 shots.
Pasichnuk, along with his brother Steenn, both participated in San Jose’s development camp last July.
There are some concerns that Pasichnuk is just 5-foot-10, which one NHL scout poohed-poohed: “He’s actually 200 pounds now, very thick build and hard to knock off pucks.”
Actually, per Arizona State’s website, Pasichnuk is up to 208 pounds.
The scout added: “He’s got a high motor. Very responsible defensively.”
This potential two-way game sounds promising for a Sharks squad that has a lot of question marks on the left side. Marc-Édouard Vlasic isn’t what he was, Radim Simek took a step back after an impressive rookie campaign, while Mario Ferraro is still a rookie himself.
But Pasichnuk’s NHL ceiling is also a huge question mark.
“I’m thinking he’s more of an AHL defenseman,” another NHL scout offered. “Possible Brad Hunt type.”
After a journeyman career through multiple NHL organizations, Hunt has topped out as a bottom-six power play specialist for Vegas and Minnesota.
Much like Hunt, this scout noted Pasichnuk is “a good power play quarterback, mobile and creative with skill and vision.”
That said, if Pasichnuk can be as good as the smaller Hunt offensively and better defensively, the Sharks might still have a gem.
According to The Athletic’s Corey Pronman, Pasichnuk’s ceiling may not come down to his size but to his skating: “While he’s a good and elusive skater, he’s not a top of the line burner, which isn’t ideal at his size. In terms of pure talent, getting him as a free agent is worth it; and if you can build up the skating, he could become a player.”