The San Jose Sharks have re-signed goaltender Josef Korenar to a one-year contract, keeping him in North America after making his NHL debut this season. Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News reports that the two-way contract carries a $750K salary at the NHL level, an $85K salary at the AHL level and a minor league guarantee of $125K. Sharks GM Doug Wilson released a statement explaining the move:
Josef took a big step in his development last season, showing his athleticism and awareness in net while appearing in the NHL for the first time. He also delivered a strong performance in the AHL’s Pacific Division playoffs, leading AHL goaltenders in goals-against average and helped the Barracuda to the semifinals.
Korenar, 23, was an undrafted free agent signing in 2017 and has become an interesting NHL prospect for the Sharks. The Czech goaltender posted an .899 save percentage in ten NHL appearances this season, while also spending time in the AHL and overseas. While he may not be ready to take over the net full-time, he does have an interesting case to be the backup this season, especially if the team doesn’t add another goaltender through free agency. The Sharks still have Martin Jones on the books for now, but the 31-year-old is a prime buyout candidate after three terrible seasons.
Getting Korenar under contract at least keeps him in the organization instead of allowing him to return to Europe, meaning at worst he’ll be with the San Jose Barracuda in 2021-22. Still waiver-exempt, he can come up and down whenever necessary to help the goaltending group at the NHL level while continuing his development by getting starts whenever possible in the AHL.
In the expansion draft later this month, it seems likely that the Sharks protect Korenar over Jones if the latter isn’t bought out. If he is though, the team needed a goalie under contract for 2021-22 to leave exposed in order to meet the requirements–Korenar can now be that goalie.