Amherst native, UMass junior John Leonard agrees to sign with San Jose Sharks

  • John Leonard of UMass, right, moves the puck against Vermont defenders Derek Lodermeier, left, and Owen Grant, Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Leonard, left, of UMass, moves the puck against Benton Maass, of New Hampshire, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 at the Mullins Center. Matthew Kessel looks on. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Leonard of UMass, right, looks for a shot while defended by Owen Grant of Vermont, Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass players John Leonard, second from left, and Jack Suter, fourth from left, eye a loose puck amid New Hampshire players Kalle Eriksson, from left, Benton Maass, Mike Robinson and Filip Engaras, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Leonard, left, of UMass, faces off against Liam Blackburn, of New Hampshire, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 4/1/2020 1:49:26 PM

UMass junior forward John Leonard has agreed to join the San Jose Sharks, foregoing his final year of collegiate eligibility, the team announced on Tuesday.

“It obviously was a long couple of weeks, especially with the way season ending,” Leonard said. “It was a tough decision, but it was just an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. After discussing with my family, coaches, Carvy (Greg Carvel), all the assistants, the staff, my advisor, we just felt it was best for my development and best for my overall hockey career.”

The Amherst native and 2020 Hobey Baker Top 10 finalist was selected by the Sharks in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, 182nd overall.

“John Leonard grew tremendously as a hockey player this past season, becoming the top goal scorer in the country, and put himself in a position to sign with the San Jose Sharks,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said a statement. “John has been a critical piece in the development of our hockey program and our culture. His growth as a player mirrored the growth of our team and we are excited to watch him play in the NHL with three other UMass players who came to campus at the same time.”

Defensemen Cale Makar (Colorado) and Mario Ferraro (San Jose) left the Minutemen after last season’s run to the Frozen Four final.

Junior Mitchell Chaffee (Minnesota Wild) and senior Jake McLaughlin (AHL affiliate of Vegas Golden Knights) recently signed professional contracts.

Leonard led the nation with 27 goals in a season that was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He paced the Minutemen with 37 points. He had 10 assists and was +17 in 33 games with five power-play goals.

“John is an elite goal scorer and we are excited to cheer him on and watch him score goals at the next level,” Carvel said.

Leonard leaves UMass ranked fourth in program history for career goals (56), tied for fifth in career plus/minus (30), tied for eighth in career points (105) and tied for eighth in career power-play goals (16) over 106 career contests. The former Cathedral standout set UMass’ single-season Division I-era goals record, which ranks fourth all-time, and became just the sixth member of the 50-goal, 100-point club in UMass history, the first to reach the milestone as a junior in the Division I era. Leonard has both the single-season (six) and career records for game-winning goals (10), as well.

“John is a high-end shooter who is creative with the puck,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. “He took big steps in both his fitness level and all-around game and became one of the most dominant offensive players in college hockey this season. We are excited to see his continued growth as a member of the Sharks organization.”

The First-Team Hockey East All-Star’s 21 goals in league games were not only a program record, but marked the most by any Hockey East player since Cam Atkinson had 24 for Boston College in 2010-11. In total, 29 of Leonard’s 37 points came in Hockey East contests and included five game-winning goals over 23 conference games. He became UMass’ first-ever winner of the Hockey East Three Stars Award, as well and was a three-time Hockey East Player of the Week in 2019-20.

Leonard ranked first in the nation in goals per-game this season at 0.82, tied for first in game-winning goals with six and was one of just three players to record two hat tricks in 2019-20. He finished in the top 20 in points per-game, coming in at 16th in the nation at a 1.12 clip.

Leonard led the nation in third-period goals (16), third-period points (21) and game-winning goals (four) scored in the final frame. He tied for the nation’s lead in game-winning goals (six) overall and hat tricks (two), and led the nation with seven multi-goal games, 21 even-strength goals and 21 goals in UMass wins.


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