William Eklund and his camp were certain that he did enough to stay.
“I feel like I belong here,” Eklund said yesterday, on the eve of his final NHL game this season.
The San Jose Sharks, however, disagreed, re-assigning their 2021 first-round pick to Djurgårdens today. Eklund had notched four assists in nine NHL games — if he had played his 10th, the Sharks would’ve burned the first year off their star prospect’s entry-level contract. The contract will now “slide”, in its entirety, to next year.
Interestingly, the Sharks could’ve also sent Eklund to ply his craft in the AHL — the ELC wouldn’t have been burned immediately that way — and the winger could’ve come up later in the year with more seasoning.
Instead, the San Jose Sharks opted for a clean break this year.
“This was one of the toughest decisions we have had to make,” Doug Wilson said in a statement. “William’s tremendous skill and vision have been evident since his participation in our rookie tournament in September. In his nine NHL games as a teenager, he has shown that he is going to be a special player in this league but ultimately, we feel it is in the best interest of his long-term development to return to Sweden and continue to work on becoming the dominant player we know he can be.”
Short-term, however, Eklund’s camp believes that he belongs in the NHL — and at no cost to his long-term development.
“We believe William is among the top four to six wingers on the NHL club,” Eklund’s agent Todd Diamond told San Jose Hockey Now.
Diamond also indicated that Eklund was willing to go to the Barracuda, if necessary, to gain more seasoning — the AHL, after all, is a lot closer to the NHL than Djurgårdens. But that conversation never happened between the San Jose Sharks and Eklund.
“There are rules in the IIHF Transfer Agreement and the NHL CBA that govern these situations,” Diamond noted. “The Sharks made their choice and are within their rights and all William can do is to continue to improve everyday.”
So the COVID-battered Sharks continue on, short-handed, and now without their top prospect.
“It’s not our decision. It’s management’s call and that’s the decision that they made,” San Jose captain Logan Couture stressed today. “That’s what we live with. We go out and we play hockey.”
All warmed up ✔️ pic.twitter.com/0A0n2dbDmI
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) November 5, 2021
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