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Cagnoni on How To Defend Celebrini, What He Has To Improve To Make Barracuda

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

What’s next for Luca Cagnoni?

The San Jose Sharks prospect was the first defenseman to put up 90 points in the WHL since Shane Peacock 30 years ago. With his entry-level contract signed, the 5-foot-9 defenseman could play in the WHL or jump to professional hockey next season.

Sharks Sign High-Scoring Defensive Prospect

But that will be tough, with the San Jose Sharks signing two more minor league defensemen yesterday, Lucas Carlsson and Jimmy Schuldt. During his media availability at Sharks development camp, Cagnoni discussed his impressive WHL campaign, his first time defending Macklin Celebrini, and the hype around camp from fans.

Plus, San Jose Barracuda head coach John McCarthy outlined what Cagnoni must improve in order to make the AHL:

Cagnoni, on what he knows about recent San Jose Sharks draft picks Carson Wetsch and Colton Roberts:

[I’ve] played against them. I know they played for [Burnaby Winter Club]. I played there too, they’re a couple years younger. I know of them. I played against them quite a bit, not as much Wetsch as Roberts, but they seem to be good guys. Good players.

Cagnoni, on his record-breaking WHL season:

I definitely learned a lot last year. Throughout the year having [Luca] Sbisa and Todd [Marchant] watching our games and giving me feedback — stuff for the D-zone and what I can work on has helped out a lot. Obviously I had a pretty decent year over there in Portland, so it worked out that way. Coming into here, just doing the same stuff, listening to what they say, you learn a lot [about] what it’s like be a pro.

Cagnoni, on the buzz around this year’s development camp:

We had Smitty [Will Smith] last year, so [I’m] used to the cameras and stuff around now. It was a little louder in the rink. Having a generational guy like that, it’s gonna be a little louder.

Cagnoni, on defending Macklin Celebrini for the first time:

He’s pretty elusive and deceptive. He’s got a couple of tricks up his sleeve. It’s pretty hard to check him. I’ve played against Bedard and kind of another player like that. So, it’s tough, but it makes us better.

McCarthy, on what Cagnoni must do to make the Barracuda:

Same as everyone else that comes up: Can he defend? Can he take care of his own end? I know that offensively he’s successful. In the WHL, he broke a bunch of records. So, probably that: defending, taking care of his own end.

No one’s really going to expect him to be Jimmy Schuldt. But, I think we can get him closer. Having a guy like Jimmy around can bring that side of his game out.

McCarthy, on how small players can succeed in the NHL:

It’s probably easier these days than it was 15-20 years ago. The game has a little bit more speed, a little less size. Having a good stick and skating ability. If you look at Quinn Hughes or those smaller defensemen, that’s how they defend, with their feet. They’re never really going to outmuscle people, but they’re smart and they know how to take good angles and have a good stick.

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