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Sharks look to Europe for another free agent find


Sharks look to Europe for another free agent find

Stop me if you've read this before: The Sharks signed a young free agent out of one Europe's top leagues to an entry-level contract. 

The same could have been written in 2014, when the team signed Melker Karlsson. Or 2015, when they signed Joonas Donskoi. Or 2016, when the Sharks signed Tim Heed and Marcus Sorensen. 

San Jose announced it signed the latest, 23-year-old Swiss forward Vincent Praplan, on Friday. The length and salary terms of the contract were not disclosed. 

"Vincent is a highly skilled playmaker who can play any forward position," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We saw first-hand at our rookie tournament last summer what he can do with the puck and think he will fit perfectly within our puck pressure system. His speed allows him to be a threat on the penalty kill, and his offensive instincts make him an asset on the power play. We're excited for him to join our organization." 

Praplan is in the midst of his fourth season with EHC Kloten of the Swiss National League (NLA), and is the team's leading scorer with 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 45 games. He's scored at least 15 goals in each of the last three seasons, and 122 points (52 goals, 70 assists) in 196 NLA games. 

Like those previous European signings, who all won championships in their respective countries, Praplan also has some championship pedigree. Last season, he helped EHC Kloten win their first-ever Swiss Cup, scoring eight points (three goals, five assists) in five games in the concurrent knockout competition. 

Last month, Praplan skated for Switzerland in four games at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. He's also played for his country at the 2017 World Championships, plus the 2014 World Junior Championships and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2011. 

Time will tell whether Praplan follows in Karlsson, Donskoi, Heed, and Sorensen's footsteps and makes the NHL, but the signing arguably marks the Sharks' second victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in as many days. Before skating in San Jose's training camp and suiting up for the team at a September rookie tournament, he attended Chicago's rookie development camp in July. 

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