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Brinson Pasichnuk to sign with Sharks, ASU hockey gains credibility

Arizona State Sun Devils defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk (39) looks to shoot during the college hockey game between the Clarkson Golden Knights and the ASU Sun Devils on December 28, 2018 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — When defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk got to ASU, the hockey program had just joined the NCAA ranks. He now leaves the program in a year in which a national championship wasn’t out of the question.

It’s come a long way.

The coronavirus pandemic cancelled hockey’s NCAA Tournament. Pasichnuk called it “heartbreaking,” but if it’s any consolation, Pasichnuk’s year was capped with him agreeing to terms with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He’ll be the second Sun Devil to sign with an NHL team, joining now-Ottawa Senators goaltender Joey Daccord.

“Obviously what it does from a credibility standpoint as far as our ability to assist in developing players to reach their goals as a hockey player, it builds that credibility,” head coach Greg Powers said. “I think it’s important to say that Brinson showed up to Arizona State as an already elite player. Where he developed the most was just as a human being and as a person, and that’s what we’re most invested in with our players.

“But what he’s done and the performance that he had on the ice for us throughout his four years and gradually getting better and culminating to a day like today, it certainly helps us build credibility as a program.”

Pasichnuk has gone to NHL teams’ summer development camps multiple times, including with the Sharks. He got a contract offer from San Jose at the end of his junior season but decided to return to ASU for a senior year, citing his desire to continue building the young program, chase a national championship, play another year with his brother Steenn Pasichnuk and still being in the first year of marriage. He also wanted to finish his degree.

Despite coming back to school, he had assurance from the Sharks that they’d still be waiting for him when his college career was over. Other teams showed interest throughout this past season, but he ultimately landed with San Jose. The Islanders, Panthers and Red Wings were among those calling. The Coyotes had Pasichnuk in for a development camp, but the two sides didn’t communicate much thereafter, he said.

One draw of the Sharks is that their AHL team, the San Jose Barracuda, plays in the same building that the NHL affiliate does. For players who are bound to get called up and down between the two leagues, as is possible with Pasichnuk, that’s a benefit.

“That was another huge factor, especially being married,” he said. “If you’re up and down in the NHL all year, between American League and NHL, in other organizations that aren’t fortunate to have their AHL team in the same city, you don’t even really get an apartment. You’re mostly living out of hotels and this is mine and Halle’s first year of marriage, so we’re still trying to figure that out. So it’s definitely a huge advantage being able to make sure we’re in the same city no matter what happens.”

Whenever the NHL does play again, Powers thinks Pasichnuk is ready to play at that level, citing his natural physical ability, quickness and defensive acumen.

“He’s all heart, Powers said. “And he’s going to be a really easy player for fans to like and appreciate. His compete level every shift, he doesn’t have an off switch. He played on average 28-30 minutes a night for us, and there’s nights where he wanted more minutes. So he can play in any situation and he’s just an energizer bunny that can do it all, and I think fans are going to appreciate his work ethic more than anything.”

Powers compared Pasichnuk to the Boston Bruins’ Connor Clifton and Torey Krug, the latter of whom a veteran defenseman that famously delivered a highlight-reel hit in the Stanley Cup last season, making for a classic photo:

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

“He’s viewed as undersized, but don’t tell him that, because if you’re going to get into a battle of any physicality with him, my money’s on him,” Powers said. “He’s as strong as an ox and his explosiveness and north-south and his burst is unbelievable, and like I said, he wants to win. He’ll do it at all costs. His compete level, you can’t teach what he has.”

The eyes are on the next chapter for Pasichnuk, but he called his time at ASU the best four years of his life.

“I think that relationship will never go away,” he said. “I always want to keep building that. I plan for ASU to be my training grounds every offseason when I come back here every year and train and skate with the boys. Maybe when my hockey career’s over, maybe Coach Powers will recruit me to come be an assistant coach.”


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