Skip to main content

Coveted college free agent Brinson Pasichnuk won't say where he has signed an NHL deal (but it's probably San Jose)

After four successful seasons at Arizona State, Brinson Pasichnuk is ready to make his NHL move. But where will the former Sun Devils captain end up? All signs point to a move to the Bay Area for the promising rearguard.
Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Everything is in place for Brinson Pasichnuk to start his NHL career. He’s finished school and he even has his own page on the CapFriendly website, despite the fact he hasn’t yet signed an NHL contract. All he has to do now is wait.

One of the most coveted college free agents of this year’s cohort is still holding out hope there will be some semblance of an NHL season before he actually signs a contract, one that is believed to be with the San Jose Sharks. Pasichnuk (pronounced PASH-nuk) has chosen his team from the 20 that were originally courting him in his senior year at Arizona State University. He’s not saying which team, but the two finalists were the Arizona Coyotes and the Sharks. According to a source close to the situation, Pasichnuk definitely did not sign with the Coyotes, so that leaves the Sharks.

Along with the rest of the hockey world, Pasichnuk is waiting to see what the immediate future holds. If there are still games to be played, his intention is to sign for this season and burn a year off his entry-level deal. If not, he’ll sign and begin with his new organization next season. While most of the other high-profile college free agents – Marc Minnesota State center Michaelis (Vancouver), Minnesota State defenseman Connor Mackey (Calgary), St. Cloud State defenseman Jack Ahcan (Boston), Massachusetts right winger Mitchell Chaffee (Minnesota) and Dartmouth left winger Drew O’Connor (Pittsburgh) – have already elected to sign amidst the uncertainty, Pasichnuk has chosen to wait. “I do know where I’m signing, but I want to keep it on the down-low until it’s official,” Pasichnuk told “I’m just waiting to see what (the NHL) is doing.”

The way the 22-year-old Pasichnuk sees it, he’s waited a long time for this opportunity, so having to delay it a little longer won’t be so difficult, particularly in light of the circumstances surrounding the hold-up. Pasichnuk was never drafted, despite being ranked 115th by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau for the 2016 draft when he was 18 years old. He went undrafted again after his freshman season at Arizona State, a development that turned out in his favor when two-thirds of the league was pursuing him this season. He has been to development camps with the Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild, Coyotes and, most recently last summer when he and his older brother Steenn, took part in the Sharks summer development camp. Pasichnuk actually could have signed an NHL contract this season, but stayed at Arizona State to try to win a national championship and be with his wife (yes, his wife), Halle Johnson, a senior on Arizona State’s women’s volleyball team.

As was detailed in THN’s recent Future Watch edition, Pasichnuk and Johnson exchanged vows last summer after their junior years. Making bold and life-altering decisions is nothing new for Pasichnuk, however. To say he is different from the 18-year-old who showed up four years ago at Arizona State would be an understatement. When he got to Arizona State he was a supremely talented player who lacked discipline on and off the ice, which might have been what scared NHL teams away from him. He was also suffering from severe depression and he had no explanation for it. The native of Bonnyville, Alta., was so lost at times that he contemplated suicide. He dealt with his pain by staying out late and partying and by often acting out on the ice.

“I grew up around hunting my entire life and it got to the point where I was terrified to go hunting with my family because I was scared to hold a gun in my hand,” Pasichnuk said. “It was scary.”

But a chance meeting with a student one day on campus put Pasichnuk on the path to spirituality and he allowed God into his life. He believes it was part of God’s plan for him to take the path he did, just as he believes he’s being guided by a higher power in his life now. It’s pretty certain that path has led him to San Jose, where he hopes to have a long and productive career. And depending upon what the NHL decides in the coming months, that path will continue either this season or next.

Want more in-depth features and analysis? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


Ryan Graves and Timo Meier

Should the New Jersey Devils Trade for Sharks' Timo Meier?

The New Jersey Devils are enjoying a breakout season, but they'd benefit from another strong winger. Adam Proteau analyzes a possible trade for Timo Meier.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

Pierre-Luc Dubois Recalls Trade to Winnipeg Two Years Later

Who knows where Pierre-Luc Dubois will be in a year or two? But two years after the trade to the Winnipeg Jets, he's on pace for a career high in points.

Connor Bedard

NHL Sour Rankings: Bedard’s Fit Among the NHL’s Bottom Feeders

How could Connor Bedard fit into each roster of the NHL's current worst teams?