Amherst’s John Leonard to make NHL debut with San Jose Sharks this week

  • Amherst native John Leonard is expected to make his NHL debut with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. San Jose plays at Arizona to open the season. COURTESY SAN JOSE SHARKS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/11/2021 3:53:12 PM

Amherst native John Leonard will make his NHL debut when the San Jose Sharks open the season Thursday at Arizona, according to multiple reports.

Leonard, who played three years at UMass, was not placed on waivers Monday and played on the top line of the White team during the Sharks Teal vs. White scrimmage Sunday.

“He has high-end skill and he has speed, and I like him in that position on that top line,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said after the scrimmage. “I’m sure there’s going to be some tinkering as we get through this compacted schedule, but Johnny did a good job and had a good camp and he deserves to be with the big club.”

The Sharks drafted Leonard in the sixth round with the 182nd overall pick in 2018 after his freshman season at UMass. He agreed to sign with San Jose last March as a junior, forgoing his final season of collegiate eligibility.

Leonard, who played at the former Cathedral High School in Springfield and with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, left the Minutemen as the program’s fourth-leading goalscorer (56) and eighth in career points (105) after 106 games. He set the school’s Division I era scoring record with 27 goals as a junior.

He’ll re-join his former UMass teammate Mario Ferraro with the Sharks. Ferraro played in 61 games for San Jose last season, scoring two goals with nine assists. He was the 48th overall pick in 2017.

“I think Mario is a little mature beyond his years when it comes to his hockey sense,” Boughner said. “Mario has earned the right to be in the top four (defensive mix) based on how he played last year and how he’s come into camp here.”

The duo are two of 11 former Minutemen set to start the NHL season this week. Cale Makar won the Calder Trophy last season as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year in helping the Colorado Avalanche reach the Western Conference semifinals.

Jonathan Quick is entering his 14th season with the Los Angeles Kings. Conor Sheary signed a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals. East Longmeadow’s Frank Vatrano will start his fourth year with the Florida Panthers after being traded from the Bruins.

Justin Braun joined the Philadelphia Flyers after nearly a decade with the Sharks. Brandon Montour and Matt Irwin are in Buffalo with the Sabres. Joel Hanley will play for the Dallas Stars.

William Lagesson survived the Edmonton Oilers initial round of cuts Saturday. Mitchell Chaffee was in training champ with the Minnesota Wild but was assigned to their AHL team, the Iowa Wild, Monday.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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