By Spencer Head, Staff Writer | Follow him on Twitter
Erik Karlsson, Kris Letang, Dan Boyle. These current NHL defensemen are widely known for their offensive abilities.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic isn’t.
In fact, he isn’t very well known at all around the league.
However, the Sharks’ 25-year-old blueliner known as “Eddie” or “Pickles” is highly regarded in San Jose for his relentless defense.
This summer he signed a 5-year extension with the Sharks worth $21.25M, coming out to a salary cap hit of $4.25 a year, according to CapGeek.com. He also has a No-Trade Clause. With the likes of Vancouver’s Jason Garrison and Calgary’s Dennis Wideman signing overpaid contracts this offseason of $4.6 and $5.25 million a year, Vlasic’s extension is undoubtedly a win and possibly a steal for General Manager Doug Wilson.
“He gave us a value deal in a place where he wanted to be, and that is how it should work,” Wilson commented on Vlasic’s extension.
Vlasic was originally a 2nd round pick in the 2005 Draft by the Sharks, and entered the NHL at age 19 the following year. Since then, he has played 6 full NHL seasons and has emerged as a veteran on San Jose’s defense. By the second half of the season, Vlasic earned a spot on the first defensive pairing with Dan Boyle.
After the 2008-09 season when Vlasic reached a career-high 6 goals and 36 points, his offensive production declined immensely over the next three seasons, tallying only 16, 18, and 23 points respectively.
However, his positional play, shot blocking, time on ice, and general defensive skill hide in the shadows behind these numbers.
For example, According to behindthenet.ca’s advanced hockey statstics, Vlasic led the Sharks in 5-on-5 ice time and led the Sharks’ defense in Penalty Kill Ice Time as well. For a player that plays the most time on 5 on 5 and on the penalty kill, 23 points is not too shabby. Maybe with the addition of Brad Stuart this offseason, Vlasic will see more power play time and offensive zone starts.
If Vlasic didn’t sign the extension he did this summer, he could have tested the waters of unrestricted free agency a year from now and could have likely gotten much more money and a long-term contract from another team. However, he didn’t, and one thing’s for sure- he wants to stay in San Jose.
While he may not be one of those guys who scores every night or is talked about frequently on NHL.com, Vlasic has developed into one of the core pieces of this organization. Without him, San Jose’s team in teal would be nowhere near where it is today, and thanks to this extension, the San Jose Sharks’ Stanley Cup Window may have opened itself a little wider.