It’s safe to say that the San Jose Sharks couldn’t believe that William Eklund was available to them.
Many projections — from Corey Pronman’s most recent mock draft to San Jose Hockey Now’s own sources — saw the slick Swedish playmaker as unlikely to drop to No. 7. But that’s why, as they say, you play the game.
In a moment of surprising candor, San Jose Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. revealed that Eklund was second on their big board, behind only second-overall pick Matty Beniers.
Doug Wilson, Wilson Jr., and Tim Burke talked about their stroke of good luck.
Doug Wilson Jr., on how pleased the San Jose Sharks were that William Eklund dropped to them:
We were very happy. We had him second-overall on our list behind Matty [Beniers]. I’m thrilled we were able to keep our first.
William is a phenomenal kid. He’s a captain-type. He’s a leader. I’m over the moon that we were able to pick him up.
Wilson Jr., on if Eklund has an out clause in his SHL contract if he makes it to the NHL next year:
I’m not sure if we’d be up for talking about that right now. We just were able to talk to William. It’s pretty late over there in Sweden, but William has expressed what he thinks, what his best plan is, and it’s probably a very good one.
But we are going to work to get him over to development camp and get him into San Jose to get to know him even better. Go from there.
Wilson Jr., on magnitude of Eklund flourishing in a full season of SHL play this year as an 18-year-old:
I think when you get a chance to meet William, you’ll understand. He’s very mature. He’s got speed. He’s got puck protection. He’s got everything we look for in our forwards and he’s a very special, special person. He fits great with our culture.
I can’t say enough about him.
Doug Wilson, on Eklund’s maturity:
I think once you guys meet him, you’ll see the maturity not only in how he plays the game, but how he lives his life and the role that he has within his own family. He’s a coach’s dream, just how he plays the game. You spend some time around him, you’ll get the same feeling that we have.
Wilson, on if the San Jose Sharks have any comment on Montreal drafting Logan Mailloux:
No, we don’t.
Tim Burke, on Eklund’s admiration of Mat Barzal and if there’s any comparison stylistically between the two:
I think it’s unfair to go to that link there.
They have the puck a lot, a lot of energy, is on parks, wants the puck, good possession. But to make those comparisons, I wouldn’t do that to the kid.
But what really attracts you to him when you watch him, when you have speed and tenacity with skill. That’s pretty exciting.
Wilson Jr., on if the San Jose Sharks see Eklund as more of a center or winger right now:
So William played in the SHL this year as a 17-18 year old. And they had him on the wing.
Growing up, William always played center. That’s the role he played on the national team. So we see him as a center, but more importantly, we just see him as a very versatile, skilled forward. So he’s one of those players you can put anywhere on a top line and be good to go.
But when we drafted him, we’ve projected him as a centerman.
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