Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be the fourth San Jose Sharks draft pick to skate in 1,200 NHL games tonight.
The team picked Vlasic 35th in the 2005 NHL Draft, with an early second-round pick acquired in the Miikka Kiprusoff trade. 19-year-old Vlasic would play in 81 games in 2006-07 and become a mainstay on the San Jose Sharks’ blueline from then on.
Fast forward 1,199 regular season and 142 playoff games later, Vlasic cemented himself as a top defensive defenseman during his prime in the NHL. This season, the defenseman has enjoyed a bounce-back season and been playing a larger role for the San Jose Sharks than the last couple seasons.
“If you’re fast enough, if you can keep up, if you work hard enough, you can stay in this league. And that’s what I’m trying to do,” said Vlasic. The blueliner is averaging three more minutes of ice time this season under head coach David Quinn than last year. “There’s a new system, new players this year. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m doing what I did throughout my whole career and that’s why it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
“He’s just in a better place mentally for a variety of reasons,” said Quinn. “One of the things we said to him: ‘I don’t care what’s happened here the last three or four years, you’re a guy that from the get-go we’re going to lean on to kill penalties and play against people’s top lines.’ That’s what he’s done his whole career and he’s going to get every opportunity to do that.”
Quinn continued: “If he’s not successful doing it, then he won’t be put in those situations. I think it was on us to find a way to maximize the player that we have and he’s taking advantage of the situation.”
Vlasic will join Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Ray Whitney as the fourth Sharks draft pick to play in 1,200 regular season games. However, the 35-year-old downplayed this milestone: “I’m just happy doing what I love to do.”
SAN JOSE SHARKS (11-20-7)
Per Quinn, Kahkonen starts
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 1, 2023
Scott Harrington will also draw in for the injured Radim Simek. Sharks lines will likely be otherwise unchanged:
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (8-22-4)
This was how the Blackhawks lined up against the Blue Jackets last night:
Jack Johnson-Caleb Jones
— Mark Scheig (@mark_scheig) December 31, 2022
WHERE TO WATCH
The San Jose Sharks will take on the Chicago Blackhawks at 4 PM PST at the United Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
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