Super Mario is here to stay!
Yet another box has been checked off the preseason checklist for the San Jose Sharks, as the organization has re-signed restricted free agent Mario Ferraro for four more years.
Such a deal covers all of the defender’s restricted free agent years, carrying him into unrestricted free agent eligibility in 2026. Per CapFriendly, Ferraro’s contract totals $13 million with an average annual value of $3.25 million. While his contract doesn’t include any performance bonuses, it is front-loaded with a signing bonus next season.
“Mario has shown that he is a dynamic and reliable defenseman for our club, skating top-level minutes against the best competition every night and delivering solid results. His energy and work ethic are the reason why he has achieved so much in his early part of his career, and we look forward to watching him continue to grow and elevate his role on the team,” said Sharks general manager Mike Grier in a press release.
After trading veteran defenseman Brent Burns alongside forward Lane Pederson to the Carolina Hurricanes, the stage was set for the Sharks to lock down a defenseman who could carry heavy minutes on a nightly basis. Especially with fresh faces in the defense core, the Sharks could do well with someone who is already comfortable shouldering the responsibility.
Following the release, Ferraro met with members of the media to discuss his new contract, a new locker room, and developing his game moving into next season.
Here are the highlights from what he had to say:
On re-signing with the Sharks: I’m ecstatic, you know — I’m very thankful. I’m very appreciative of all the opportunities I’ve gotten up until this point. It’s awesome. It feels really good to be a part of an organization for another four years — the organization that trusted me out of college and drafted me. It’s a really good feeling, I’m just trying to soak it all in.
On the road to re-signing: There’s always some anxiety and stress because it is my job and it’s something I’m very passionate about, but it should always take time. I’m just very happy to be where I’m at and very excited for the year to come. It’s been a good summer so far and this tops it off for sure.
On stepping into a bigger role next season: [Burns’] shoes are very difficult ones to fill — if you can fill them. It’s never easy to see someone like that go. He was a mentor for me, someone I looked up to. It’s very hard to live up to what Brent has done for this organization, what he continues to do in the league, but I think I’ve been very privileged to have learned and been alongside someone like that over the last 3 years. That’ll go a long way. I don’t think that there should be any stress involved — I’m more excited for the opportunity, and I’m grateful to have learned from the man himself and use the mindset he had and add it to my game and personality coming into the rink.
I’ve obviously mentioned this before about Brent: he’s a one of a kind guy. That’s the thing with change, it can be a good thing, but it’s never easy to lose somebody like that. I had a great relationship with him, and that will continue beyond this time. I think that because he’s such an impactful player and person, it doesn’t necessarily need to be one person who will fill his role — it’s more so us coming together as a group. I think guys coming together to display the leadership that he brought can be a very powerful thing. Unity is a very important thing in any sport’s locker room, and that’s something we can build on and come together to replace the presence that Burnzie supplied for our locker room on and on the ice. It’s going to take a team effort — it’s a team sport. That’s the most important part to winning: being a team and working together. I think it’s going to be a big motivator for us as a group. As hard as it was to lose someone like that, if everyone steps up, we can accomplish the goals that Burnzie did for this team.
On meeting new additions to the organization: There have definitely been a lot of changes so far — there’s been a lot going on in the last couple of weeks, so there hasn’t been much interaction yet. Change can be a really good thing, and I’m excited to meet all the new faces when they come into San Jose. I’m really looking forward to the bond that we get to create — it’s going to be a lot of new interactions and new personalities in the room, which I think can go a long way. I’m just excited to get that kind of in-person feel. I know everybody has their own offseason routine, so guys are back home or with their families, so you can never really get a good feel for it until everyone’s in the same city and you’re interacting every day, which will come within the next month, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to meeting everybody on and off the ice.
On what he wants to focus on: I feel good about the things I’ve accomplished to this point. I do think that I’ve been going through new roles throughout every year since the first year of my entry-level contract, and I am motivated to add more new tools to my game. I think I have been a very defensive defenseman — that aggressive player in the D-zone — and I’d like to add more poise and offensive capabilities to my game, which I think I am capable of. This new contract, of course, motivates me to prove that I can step outside my comfort zone and apply more offense to my game and more creativity, if you will. I’m just focused on improving on the things that I’ve had in my role on this team and nailing that down while hopefully getting more involved and proving that I can be more offensive and create more opportunity on the other side of the red line.
On how he fits in Grier’s vision: I’d like to think that I can fit in with what our identity is. Whatever the identity for our team should be, I think that I can be that guy to supply my area of the game or my personality to assist in that. I think his competitive and hard-working mindset is something that I really tried to instill in my game growing up, so I’m really excited for that vision of our team. I think that’s a really important thing that can go a long way for us.
*Lightly edited for clarity.