The San Jose Sharks top prospect, William Eklund, is set to return to the NHL. After getting a nine-game trial run last season before heading to play for Djurgardens in his native Sweden, the Sharks have put Eklund in a position to get more NHL games under his belt, recalling him from their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.
While Eklund’s performance last season for Djurgarden was somewhat uneven (he scored 14 points in 29 games as his side was relegated to Sweden’s second-tier league, HockeyAllsvenskan) he has taken real strides in his development now that he’s on North American ice. Eklund has been a centerpiece offensive generator for the Barracuda, and has scored 17 goals and 41 points in 52 games.
Eklund is a smooth-skating attacker whose play in Sweden last year raised some concerns about his goal-scoring ability, as he often looked deferential with the puck on his stick and finished with just one goal to his name. This season, though, Eklund has taken a meaningful step to add more of a shooting threat to his game and become a real one-timer possibility on the power play.
He’s an exciting attacker in transition and should add some offensive spark to the Sharks lineup. While the Sharks’ season is all but over where the playoffs are concerned, getting a look at Eklund’s progress via this call-up provides some real meaning to the remaining games left on the Sharks’ schedule.
If the Sharks organization wants its fortunes to turn around sooner, rather than later, Eklund’s ability to translate his scoring success in the AHL to the more difficult NHL level will be one of the most important storylines to track.
Eklund has all the tools to be a star scoring winger in the NHL, and his AHL performance this year absolutely supports that line of thinking. With this call-up, now Eklund will get his first extended chance to show what the can do in the most talented hockey league in the world.