The San Jose Sharks have landed another depth forward, acquiring Luke Kunin from the Nashville Predators. The Sharks will be sending back John Leonard and a 2023 third-round pick.
Kunin, 24, is a restricted free agent this summer, coming off a two-year deal that carried a $2.3MM cap hit. He’ll need a qualifying offer worth the same amount and is eligible for salary arbitration, though the Sharks could also work out a contract before that is necessary.
While he hasn’t exactly lived up to his billing as the 15th overall pick in 2016, Kunin’s game has developed to the point where he is an effective bottom-six option. This year, he seemingly decided to lean into the physical side of the game, racking up 223 hits and 99 penalty minutes–nearly doubling his career totals.
Still able to contribute around the net, he also potted 13 goals, the third-straight double-digit total for the young forward. As the Sharks start to form a new identity under general manager Mike GrierKunin’s toughness and versatility will come in handy.
For the Predators, landing a depth forward and a third-round pick certainly makes up for it. Leonard, 23, has 58 games of NHL experience and was a strong performer for the San Jose Barracuda this year. He too will need a contract and is arbitration-eligible but doesn’t have much of a case for anything over the league minimum.
By moving Kunin out, the team has opened up some additional cap space as they fit in Ryan McDonagh and continue to speak with Filip Forsberg.