SAN JOSE – William Eklund is going to Loveland, Colorado next week, not Edmonton, Alberta.
The San Jose Sharks are reassigning Eklund to the AHL, coach David Quinn said Saturday after his team’s 4-1 loss to New York Islanders at SAP Center.
Just minutes after the game ended, and after player interviews had been completed inside the Sharks’ dressing room, Eklund was seen walking out of Quinn’s office, as he received the disappointing news, at least from his perspective, from Quinn and general manager Mike Grier.
Eklund, considered the Sharks’ top prospect, was recalled from the Barracuda on March 3 and had two goals and an assist in eight games, as he played exclusively inside the Sharks’ top-six forward group.
But the decision to reassign Eklund now prevents him from playing a 10th NHL game this season. Had that happened, the first year of his three-year entry-level contract would have kicked in, and expired after the 2024-25 season.
Per the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and as worded by CapFriendly, a player who is signed to an ELC at 18 or 19 (as of Sept. 15 of the signing year), and does not play in a minimum of 10 NHL games, can have their contracts slide, or extended, into the following year.
Since Eklund signed his entry-level contract when he was 18, and he only played nine NHL games last season as well, his contract can slide for two seasons. Games in the AHL do not count for entry-level contract purposes.
The first year of Eklund’s contract will start next season, and expire after 2025-26.
Sunday, the Sharks are leaving for a three-game road trip that starts Monday in Edmonton against the Oilers. The Barracuda’s next two games are in Colorado against the Eagles.
After Saturday’s loss, the Sharks’ overall record dropped to 19-37-14. They entered Sunday in next-to-last place in the 32-team NHL with 52 points, three points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Barracuda (26-29-1-4), though, is fighting to get into an AHL playoff spot, as the team entered Sunday in seventh place in the Pacific Division with 57 points. The top seven teams in the division make the postseason, and San Jose is one point ahead of eighth-place Tucson.
The Barracuda play in Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday, then return home to play Bakersfield next Saturday and Sunday.
Quinn said the Sharks feel that being in a playoff chase and potentially playing in a postseason series is important to the development of Eklund, who was drafted seventh overall by the team in 2021.
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“It was a tough (decision),” Quinn said. “But the value of making the playoffs and potentially playing in a playoff series is huge for development. He’s 20 years old and we really like what we saw out of him up here and he gets an opportunity to go down there. He’s disappointed. But he’ll get back at it and get that team to the playoffs.”
The Sharks, as of Saturday night, had not announced a corresponding move. Right now, they have just 11 healthy forwards as Evgeny Svechnikov missed Saturday’s game with a lower body injury, and is not expected back soon.