The 2021 first-round draft pick’s quest to make the Sharks out of training camp begins in earnest this Friday in Arizona, when San Jose kicks off a three-game Rookie Faceoff Tournament against five other NHL teams. After that, Eklund will participate in training camp and surely see some exhibition action.
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) September 15, 2021
At that point, the San Jose Sharks will have to decide whether to assign their top prospect to the NHL or the AHL. Eklund also has the option of returning to his SHL team Djurgarden.
But the 18-year-old wunderkind says he isn’t looking that far ahead.
“To make the NHL is my biggest goal,” Eklund told San Jose Hockey Now this afternoon, after Sharks prospects practiced and scrimmaged in preparation for the tourney.
The biggest adjustment for Eklund might be going from Sweden’s larger rinks to the smaller rinks of North America.
Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer, also in charge of San Jose’s prospects this weekend, isn’t worried about that. He believes the five-foot-ten winger will adjust quickly to the smaller ice.
“He’s real smart. He’s got Logan [Couture]-like instincts,” Sommer said. “He’s an elusive skater.”
For his part, Eklund noted, of the smaller ice: “You can get tight to the net so you can get scoring chances easier.”
Whether Eklund makes the San Jose Sharks this fall or not, he’s relishing his experience here.
His tourney roommate and linemate Jasper Weatherby introduced Eklund to Chipotle yesterday. Eklund liked the chicken bowl with brown rice so much, he had it for lunch and dinner.
Eklund is also soaking in being around the likes of Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and Erik Karlsson at practices and captain’s skates: “It’s gonna be fun to be around the guys and see all these professional athletes and how they prepare with training and stuff like that.”
It sounds like Eklund is doing exactly what his dad Christian “Fimpen” Eklund told him before he left Sweden last week.
“Just enjoy the moment,” the teenager shared. “Not every kid can make this happen.”
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