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Dahlen Defends Eklund

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Credit: AP Photo/Tony Avelar

Jonathan Dahlen was in a hurry to get away from his Saturday morning press conference.

It’s not because of us – I think – he wanted to get back to watching the Timra IK-Djurgardens game. Nine hours ahead in Sweden, Dahlen’s old club Timra was trying to avoid relegation to Allsvenskan.

Dahlen, of course, was a big part of getting Timra promoted to the SHL last year.

Timra IK would stave off relegation by defeating Djurgardens 3-1 in Game Four, sweeping the best-of-seven series.

On the other side, however, was Dahlen’s good friend and top San Jose Sharks prospect William Eklund (along with another good friend Emil Berglund).

It’s been a tough year for Eklund. There were heightened expectations because of his SHL Rookie of the Year campaign, which the 2021 first-round pick didn’t quite meet with just one goal and 13 assists in 29 sophomore season games. He did manage a goal in the relegation series.

Dahlen says he speaks with Eklund regularly. If you recall, Eklund and Dahlen had dinner after the San Jose Sharks sent Eklund back to Djurgardens in November to keep the clock of his entry-level contract from starting.

“It’s not easy coming to a team in that position. It’s a lot of stress, a lot of people getting fired,” Dahlen shared.

There’s a reason why, of course, that Djurgardens was playing for its SHL life. They’ve seen no less than four head coaches (Barry Smith, Nichlas Falk, Mikael Aaro, Joakim Fagervall) and two general managers (Joakim Eriksson, KG Stoppel) this season. Falk and Aaro were co-coaches.

Dahlen also noted how the 19-year-old has bounced around this year. William Eklund went from San Jose Sharks development camp back to Sweden to the Rookie Faceoff to the NHL. He was then sent back to the SHL, a crushing blow, came back to North America for a World Juniors that got postponed, and then back to Sweden.

Eklund, Agent Believe He Should Be in NHL — Sharks Disagreed

“It’s been back and forth, and he’s a young kid. It’s not easy. You got to understand that,” Dahlen emphasized. “He’s still done a good job this year and gained a lot of experience.”

And William Eklund’s season isn’t over yet. He’s a shoo-in, pending the Sharks organization’s approval, to represent Sweden at the continuation of the World Juniors, scheduled to start up again in Edmonton this August.

If you look at things in another light – teenager goes straight from the Draft to the NHL (and impresses) – it’s been an amazing year for Eklund. And he’ll have a chance to end the year with a flourish at the WJCs.

EXCLUSIVE: William Eklund Breaks Down His Sharks Tape | SJHN+

“I’m happy for him,” Dahlen said. “I think it’s been a good year for him.”

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