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Sharks’ William Eklund Off to Slow NHL Start This Season

William Eklund San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks recently called up William Eklund for a brief stint in the NHL. Eklund was selected seventh overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and although we’re nearing two years since he was drafted, the Sharks have let him take his time developing in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and American Hockey League (AHL). As the 2022-23 season comes to a close, he’s finally earned another look.

Related: Three Sharks Prospects Off to Great Starts

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Although his talent is undeniable, Eklund has had a relatively slow start to his NHL career. In five games, he has one assist, which is close to his four assists in nine games last season. With that said, his struggles have been largely out of his control. So to ensure the Sharks’ top prospect continues to flourish, it is essential to understand the reasons for his slow transition to the big league.

Sharks Roster Largely in Pieces

The Sharks finally decided to sell at the 2023 trade deadline, but losing big names like Timo Meier has resulted in a very talent-deprived roster. As a result, Eklund is largely operating as a one-man show. Meier, who would have likely been the team’s best choice for mentoring the young skater, is on a new team now. How can he be expected to perform when the support around him is so dry? Luckily, there’s not an insane level of pressure on him with the team’s losing record. But if the Sharks were even in reach of a playoff spot, this pressure could be crippling.

William Eklund, San Jose Sharks (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s hard not to feel bad for Eklund, who probably wants to show some competitive energy on a slow team. Right now, Erik Karlsson leads the Sharks with 84 points in 67 games. However, after him, there is a rather steep drop-off. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl have 55 and 53 points, respectively, while Alexander Barabanov has only 43 points. Everyone else is far below a point-every-other-game average, and no one remaining on the team has a plus/minus rating in the positives. Simply put, there are very few people to help aid Eklund’s development in 2022-23.

The Sharks need to be careful how they utilize Eklund going into next season. Considering how his NHL experience is far below even one-fourth of a season, fans shouldn’t be worried; at least, they shouldn’t be worried yet. If they decide to keep him in the NHL despite a losing record, it could damage his morale beyond repair. Obviously, that argument…

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