Aug 16: The Sharks have officially announced the contract.
Aug 15: The San Jose Sharks have inked a top prospect, signing William Eklund to a three-year entry-level contract. PuckPedia reports that the deal will carry a cap hit of $925K and does include a European Assignment Clause.
Eklund, 18, was the seventh-overall pick in this year’s draft after being the top-ranked international skater by NHL Central Scouting. He is still expected to play in the SHL this year, where he can continue his development with Djurgardens IF. In 2020-21, the young forward scored 11 goals and 23 points in 40 games at the pro level, earning SHL Rookie of the Year honors.
Despite that success, Eklund actually dropped a little lower than many were expecting, even falling behind countryman Simon Edvinsson as the first European drafted (not including Swiss-born Mason McTavish, who represents Canada internationally). The Sharks snapped him up when he was still available at seven, adding an elite two-way talent to their organization. Eklund is equally adept at both playmaking and scoring, constantly finding open ice whether the puck is on his stick or not. His size may be of a little concern, but his incessant work ethic has made up for it to this point. You won’t find a shift with Eklund floating around the perimeter, waiting for his teammates to do the heavy lifting; he’s always involved one way or another and should represent a huge boost to a Sharks pipeline that has struggled to produce impact talents in recent years.
Getting him signed was the next step, even though Eklund’s deal will slide forward if he plays outside the NHL this season. The deal takes the Sharks up to the 50-contract limit for now, though several of those–including this one–will not count toward it once they’re loaned out.