Sharks sign Gannon Laroque to entry-level contract

After ending the season with the Barracuda, the Royals’ top defender has signed his first NHL contract.

The San Jose Sharks have signed prospect Gannon Laroque to a standard, entry-level contract. The team selected the defender in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (103 overall). On April 20, 2022, he signed an amateur try-out agreement (ATO) with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, going on to record one assist in three games.

Prior to signing with the organization, Laroque recorded 52 points (10 goals, 42 assists) in 63 games with the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League (WHL). In his third season with the Royals, he finished in the league’s top 10 among defenders in assists (ninth), points (10th), and power play assists (tied-seventh). The 18-year-old was the fourth-youngest defenseman to reach the 50-point mark in the WHL this season.

Among all Victoria defenseman, Laroque led in almost every major offensive category, ranking first in goals, assists, points, shots (118), power play points (28) and game-winning goals (2). At the end of the 2021-22 WHL season, Laroque was the recipient of the Royals’ Top Defenseman Award, was named to the WHL B.C. Division First All-Star Team, was the WHL B.C. Division Defenseman of the Year, and was one of four nominees for WHL Defenseman of the Year.

In the shortened 2020-21 WHL season, Laroque notched 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists) in 21 games, finishing as the Royals’ highest-scoring defender and earning their Top Defenseman Award. He also made a brief appearance with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), recording a pair of assists in four games.

As for the 2019-20 season, the Edmonton-native played in  three different leagues. In 34 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League U18 Prep division, Laroque recorded as many points (7 goals, 27 assists). He also appeared in five games for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) and three games for Victoria (WHL).

“Gannon had a very strong season with Victoria and was arguably the most improved prospect in our system. He has displayed an impressive blend of steady, defensive play matched with an ability to generate offense,” said Sharks interim general manager Joe Will in a release.

In addition to this signing, the Sharks have issued bonafide offers to the following players from the 2021 Draft, thus retaining their negotiating rights:

F Ethan Cardwell — Barrie Colts (OHL)
G Benjamin Gaudreau — Sarnia Sting (OHL)
F Liam Gilmartin — London Knights (OHL)
D Artem Guryev — Peterborough Petes (OHL)
D Evgenii Kashnikov — Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
F Max McCue — London Knights (OHL)

Forward prospect Linus Oberg was not signed to a contract by the June 1 deadline and thus becomes an unrestricted free agent. The 21-year-old was selected by the Sharks in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL draft (206 overall).