Eklund, agent disagree with Sharks' re-assignment choice


William Eklund appeared quite disappointed Friday after the Sharks chose to re-assign the rookie to the Swedish Hockey League's Djurgardens to avoid losing a year on his entry NHL contract. Eklund's agent, Todd Diamond, spoke to San Jose Hockey Now's Sheng Peng, and confirmed that he and his client hoped Eklund would get the chance to play the full season in the NHL with the Sharks.

“We believe William is among the top four to six wingers on the NHL club,” Diamond told San Jose Hockey Now. 

Diamond also told Peng that Eklund was willing to play with the Barracuda in the AHL in order to stay closer to the Sharks and play in a North American system. Eklund instead will be returned to Djurgardens for the remainder of the season.

“There are rules in the IIHF Transfer Agreement and the NHL CBA that govern these situations,” Diamond noted to Peng. “The Sharks made their choice and are within their rights and all William can do is to continue to improve everyday.”

"This was one of the toughest decisions we have had to make," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement announcing the move. "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 spoke to the media Friday and looked despondent as he discussed the decision.

"I think I did what I could to stay here, and I just tried to do my best every day, but of course, rules are rules," Eklund said.

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Eklund had four assists in nine regular-season games for the Sharks, after pacing the squad with five points (all assists) in the preseason.

The NHL's slide rule allows an organization to suit up an 18 or 19-year-old prospect for nine games before re-assigning them and not burning a year on the player's rookie contract. Once a player suits up for a 10th game, the first year of the contract goes into effect.

Eklund certainly has at times looked worthy of being in the Sharks' top lines, but a return to Sweden will allow him the chance to dominate and see more ice time against SHL competition. With less travel and fewer games, Eklund will have the chance to refine his skills and bulk up with additional training time.

This is a long-term move for the Sharks that allows them an extra year of Eklund on a rookie contract, granting the team more salary-cap flexibility in coming years.

Hopefully for everyone involved, there is no extended ill-will between the parties, and Eklund should eventually be in a Sharks uniform for many years to come.