The San Jose Sharks have had a rough 2019-20 season, to say the least. However, rookie defenseman Mario Ferraro has been one of the few bright spots in this dark season.
During the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks decided to take a chance and draft defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round (49th overall) when he was ranked and projected as at best a third-round pick.
The Sharks saw traits in Ferraro that they loved and pounced on their guy before it was too late.
After taking a look at the players that were drafted after Ferraro, it’s clear the Sharks made the correct pick. Besides two players, Mikey Anderson (Los Angeles King) and Sebastian Aho (New York Islanders), no player drafted after Ferraro is playing in the NHL.
Since training camp this past summer, Ferraro has impressed the Sharks. Ferraro made the NHL roster without stepping a foot in the AHL and has been a staple in the team’s lineup. It’s not a hot take to say that he’s been one of the team’s best defensemen this season.
Ferraro’s Road to the NHL
Before playing for the Sharks, Mario Ferraro played two seasons of college hockey for UMass-Amherst. Between those two seasons, Ferraro played in 80 games and scored 37 points (six goals, 31 assists).
Ferraro is considered an offensive defenseman but plays well in all three zones of the rink. During his two seasons with UMass-Amherst, Ferraro was a +11 and only committed 43 penalty minutes.
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In his first season with UMass-Amherst, Ferraro excelled. Collecting 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) in 39 games, he set UMass-Amherst’s record for points by a defenseman, outscoring even the likes of teammate Cale Makar. Ferraro would be named captain for UMass-Amherst.
However, Ferraro would seem to take a step back his next season, scoring just two points in the first 10 games of the season and just 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 41 games.
What was the cause of the young defenseman’s struggles during his second and final season with UMass-Amherst? Was it because he lost valuable ice time to emerging fellow defenseman Cale Makar? Or did the pressure of being captain get to him?
Whatever the issue was didn’t seem to follow him to the San Jose Sharks training camp, as the offseason worked wonders for Ferraro. Ferraro showed up to camp with some added muscle and ready to go.
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He was so impressive that he made the Sharks roster out of camp and hasn’t looked back. The 21-year-old defenseman is becoming one of the best and most reliable defensemen on the team and has only missed six games this season.
The Next Step
Through 61 games this season, the rookie has averaged 15:53 of time-on-ice per game and scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists).
Although he hasn’t produced much offensively, Ferraro has been solid everywhere else. He’s currently a -15, but this is expected for a defenseman on the team that’s given up the 24th most goals in the league.
Two of Ferraro’s most important traits are his discipline and decision making. So far this season, Ferraro only has 30 penalty minutes and just 20 giveaways. He doesn’t take penalties nor turn over the puck, two of the most important traits a defenseman can have.
With Ferraro having his defensive game locked down, he can focus on the offensive side of the game during the offseason.
Mario Ferraro reminds me of the New York Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo, an offensive defenseman that doesn’t turn over the puck and makes the smart play. If Ferraro can figure out his offensive game, he could be the Sharks’ very own Tony DeAngelo.
If that happens, Ferraro could score close to 50 points next season. That would no doubt be a great season, especially for a 22-year-old defenseman in his second full NHL season.
I, for one, believe it could happen and has a good possibility of happening.