The Sharks announced Monday that they had signed 2021 first-round pick William Eklund to a standard entry-level contract, and San Jose's new top prospect went right to work.
Eklund, 18, whom the club selected with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft last month, was in attendance for the first day of Sharks development camp on Monday, and donned the teal sweater for the first time.
Also in attendance was Thomas Bordeleau, the Sharks' 2020 second-round pick and other top prospect. He and Eklund were working on the same line, along with 2020 fourth-round pick Brandon Coe.
"He’s a great player," Bordeleau said of Eklund. "I saw a lot of skills out of him. He’s got good speed, he’s smart with the puck. It’s fun to watch him play. I’m sure (he) can bring a lot (to the Sharks)."
Monday marked the first step in Eklund's stated goal to make the big club out of training camp. In addition to sharing that he'll head back to Sweden after development camp before returning in September for training camp, he confirmed San Jose Hockey Now's report that he is "open" to playing in the AHL if he doesn't make the Sharks’ 23-man roster to start the regular season.
One would imagine Eklund would only play for the San Jose Barracuda this season if he was close to getting called up. Alternatively, he also has the option of returning to Sweden to play for Djurgardens in Stockholm for another year. In any case, he figures to be a major part of the Sharks' future -- if not the present, as well.
The development camp will conclude with a prospect scrimmage on Thursday at 7 p.m., which will be streamed live. That will offer Sharks fans their first chance to see Eklund alongside some of his future teammates.