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Sharks return Eklund to Sweden
SJ giving their 1st round draft pick time to mature
11/5/2021 - By Mike Lee
The Sharks made their first notable roster move of the season on Friday, when they reassigned centerman William Eklund to Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League. Had the Sharks allowed Eklund to play in a 10th NHL game, it would have triggered his three year entry-level contract.

So this was just as much a business decision as it was a development one. The Sharks brass leaned publicly on the need for the young Swede to develop his game, but money and San Jose's ability to retain his rights for as long as possible were the primary factors here.

"This was one of the toughest decisions we have had to make," said Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. "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."

Eklund's teammates were all very complimentary of the rookie forward who recorded 4 assists in 9 games this season. The rookie's small frame is something he'll need to work on while spending his winter back home. The 5'10" 175 pound center wowed fans and critics alike with his silky smooth skating style, but he'll need to grow out of his 19 year old adolescent frame and bulk up in order to deal with the rigors of the everyday grind that is the NHL.

There's no doubting Eklund's talent, but the Sharks want to ensure that they benefit from his talent when he'll be able to remain in the lineup. A hit by Buffalo Sabres centerman Dylan Cozens reminded the Sharks of threats that Eklund will face in the NHL. The Sharks forward was able to shake off the hit, but it left the Sharks brass holding their breath.

"I did what I could to stay here," said a dejected Eklund in a conference call with reporters on Friday. "I tried to do my best everyday, of course rules are rules." Eklund was referring to the rules regarding contract activations.

When prompted to reveal what the Sharks have told Eklund, the rookie was terse.

"Develop. Be an even better player next year."

There's no doubt the rookie was taking the news hard. He was guarded in his responses, but he did open up about the mentorship that his teammates provided.

"Playing with guys like Burns, Couture and Hertl and being able to see how they work off the ice in the practice room was a big experience for me. There are good role models for the young guys here.

Hopefully we'll get a chance to see his development take shape next season.


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