The Sharks announced Monday that they re-signed forward Jonathan Dahlen to a one-year contract. Dahlen, 23, is considered one of the top prospects in San Jose's system.
Terms of the deal were not announced, however The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported that it is a one-way contract for Dahlen. Though that doesn't necessarily guarantee he will make the big club out of training camp, it suggests the Sharks believe he is capable. General manager Doug Wilson essentially said as much.
"Jonathan went back to Sweden this past year with goals of being the captain for his team and winning the championship in the Allsvenskan," Wilson said in a team statement. "He delivered on his promises by being the MVP and leading scorer in the league and matured in his path to success. He will take this experience he has earned and challenge for a spot in the NHL."
Last season, the Swedish center once again dazzled in his home country, scoring 93 points in 60 games while captaining Timrå IK to a promotion to the top-tier SHL. He led the league in assists and points, and was named Forward of the Year for the second straight season (third overall) and Most Valuable Player.
Originally selected by the Ottawa Senators with the No. 42 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Dahlen was acquired by San Jose in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 25, 2019. He appeared in seven games for the San Jose Barracuda during the 2018-19 season and recorded four assists. In his AHL career, he has registered 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 59 games.
Dahlen's father, Ulf, was a 14-year NHL veteran who played in 161 games across four seasons with the Sharks from 1993-94 to 1996-97.
Among the young forwards in the Sharks' system, Dahlen probably is the most dynamic and talented. And the left-handed centerman could fill one of San Jose's biggest offseason priorities, as Wilson previously acknowledged the need for a third-line center. Whether it's in that spot or on another line, one would imagine the Sharks will do everything they can to ensure Dahlen sticks at the NHL level.
Of course, they'll need to ensure he stays with San Jose first. Due to Dahlen's previous AHL experience, he will not be automatically exempt from inclusion in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. But given the current state of the Sharks, you can guarantee they will protect him from being exposed, as they cannot afford to lose any young talents.
Consequently, that's one fewer veteran the Sharks can protect from exposure to the Seattle Kraken.