Sharks spotlight: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

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Sharks spotlight: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Editor's note: Over the next month, CSNCalifornia.com Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz and Postgame Live reporter Brodie Brazil will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Sharks spotlight -- the series

Sharks spotlight: Marc-Edouard VlasicAge: 25 D

In his sixth season in the NHL, all with the Sharks, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic had four goals and 19 assists for 23 points and 40 penalty minutes in 82 games. He led the Sharks and was 12th in the league in blocked shots (171), and was second on the team in ice time (23:09 per game). He was scoreless with a -2 rating in five playoff games. He has one year remaining on his contract.

Kurz says: A former second round pick of the Sharks, Marc-Edouard Vlasic made huge strides in his game this season, and was the most consistent blueliner from start to finish. He routinely played against the oppositions top players, and although he wasnt quite as effective at the end of the season as he was through the first half, Vlasic could be a mainstay on the San Jose defense for years to come provided the club signs him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1 next summer.

Unfortunately for Vlasic, his own-goal early in Game 2 against St. Louis will be remembered as the turning point in the Sharks five-game defeat. As much as his game matured this season, it would have been nice to hear Vlasic, who is one of the more thoughtful and forthcoming players on the team, take a little bit more responsibility for that misplay after the game.
SLIDESHOW: Grading the Sharks
Brodie says: Vlasic has two very big things going for him. First, he is only 25 years old. And second, he already has 6 years of NHL experience under his belt. Put those together, and its very realistic that even after his best campaign, we have not even seen Vlasic at his best yet.

It may be most accurate to say Marc-Edouard was a quality defenseman in seasons prior, but this year, he became one of the teams elite. Midway through the schedule he was lined up with Dan Boyle; a pair that lasted until the final game.

Picture any opponent with a 2 on 1 odd man rush coming towards the Sharks end. Who is the 1 San Jose skater youd like to see defending? My choice would be Vlasic, and I think that is one of the best compliments you can give a blueliner.

Pickles plays a true and responsible defensive game; usually good with positioning, a good stick, and willing to block a shot. Additionally, kept both his penalty minutes (40) and giveaways (44) relatively low. He is a perfect contrast to an offensive minded partner that will likely always be paired with.

2012-13 expectations
Kurz says: Like Logan Couture yesterday, the expectations for Vlasic next season are obvious hell once again be counted on to be one of the teams top and most important players. As one of the more underrated defensemen in the NHL, Vlasic has the luxury of being able to fly under the radar and catch some of his more unfamiliar opponents by surprise.

Vlasics solid positioning and active stick in the defensive zone are the keys to his success, and with players like Dan Boyle and Brent Burns, racking up points isnt a priority for Vlasic. He can continue to concentrate on his defensive game, which should only get better.

RELATED: Vlasics stats splits game logs

Brodie says: Expectations are simple If Vlasic can bring a similar performance next year to what he did this season, the Sharks would benefit greatly. Any improvements on his part, would be a bonus.

Vlasics play was recognized with a bid to Team Canadas roster for the World Championships several weeks ago however Marc Edouard was sent home early from the tournament after suffering a knee injury. Although, the good news, it shouldnt be anything that prevents him from being 100 healthy into training camp.

On a personal level, Marc Edouard remains one of the best interviews on the Sharks. Even on the bench during games, he gives straightforward and honest assessments of whats going on, when times are good or bad. It is this clarity, which also likely helps him evaluate and adapt during the games as a player.
Up next: Tommy Wingels

Marleau wants to return, but extension with Sharks could be tricky

Marleau wants to return, but extension with Sharks could be tricky

SAN JOSE – Just like his longtime teammate and fellow pending unrestricted free agent Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau said on Monday that he would like to return to the Sharks next season.

“Yeah, it would be nice. We’ll see if that’s an option,” Marleau said. “A lot of time here before this decision needs to be made.”

When asked if there have been any talks yet about an extension, Marleau said: “Not really, no.” Marleau, who was actively exploring his options to leave the Sharks early in the 2015-16 season, would be eligible to sign with another team on July 1.

The 37-year-old forward said he still feels like he has “at least five good years in me, or maybe more.”

“I still think I can contribute and play,” he said. “Until I think I can’t do that anymore, I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Marleau has spent his entire 19-year NHL career with the Sharks. He’s the franchise leader in just about every offensive statistical category, including games played (1,493) goals (508) and points (1,082). Marleau became just the 45th player in NHL history to reach 500 career goals on Feb. 2 in Vancouver. In 82 games this season, he posted 27 goals (third on the team) and 46 points (fifth).

He was asked what it would mean to spend his entire career in San Jose.

“There’s only a few people who have ever done that in their careers,” he said. “That’s something special.”

If Marleau wants a multi-year contract, which is likely, it could make it tricky for Doug Wilson to keep him, though. Players such as Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are due sizable raises in their next contracts, as both will enter the final year of their current bargain deals in 2017-18.

Wilson called it “a priority” to get Jones and Vlasic signed before training camp. He can begin talks on July 1, per NHL CBA rules.

“Certainly Martin Jones is everything we expected him to be, and he’s crucial,” Wilson said. “Marc-Edouard Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league. You saw what he did against one of the top players in the league (Connor McDavid). Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world. 

“Both of them are extremely important to get under contract, and we can start those discussions in the next little while.”

Both Jones and Vlasic indicated they would like to stay in San Jose past next season, too, and it’s conceivable that the combined price tag for those players will be somewhere in the $13-$15 million range. Both made just a combined $7.25 million in 2016-17 ($4.25 million for Vlasic, $3 million for Jones).

“Oh, absolutely,” Jones said, when asked if he could see himself with the Sharks long term. “I love it here. The guys are great. It’s a lot of fun coming to the rink every day. City has been great. The fans are awesome, and we have a great team. I’m excited.”

Vlasic said on March 14 that he would like to play his whole career with the Sharks, and confirmed that sentiment again on Monday, although the timing of an extension gets seemed of little importance to the 30-year-old.

“When it happens it will happen. It doesn’t matter if it’s July 1 or during the season,” he said.

The Sharks also have several pending restricted free agent forwards this summer in Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen, Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi. It’s likely that they’d prefer to keep all of those players, and some multi-year contracts could be the result. Other players like Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc showed flashes of becoming solid NHL contributors, too.

Along with the salary cap (still yet to be revealed), Thornton’s future, and which player the Sharks lose in the upcoming expansion draft, there are plenty of factors both sides need to weigh before any decision on Marleau gets made.

“[Marleau and Thornton] have been cornerstones of this franchise for a long time, not only as players, but as people,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of variables that go into that decision, and the first one is me sitting down and talking with both of them. We haven’t had a chance to do that, so we’ll get there.”

DeBoer: Joe Thornton played through torn knee ligaments in playoffs

DeBoer: Joe Thornton played through torn knee ligaments in playoffs

SAN JOSE – There was finally some clarification on Monday on what Joe Thornton was playing through, as the Sharks gathered one final time at their practice facility before the offseason.

And, it was significant, as the 37-year-old was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” in his left knee, according to coach Pete DeBoer.

“I don’t know if the injury report has come out yet, but I’ve never seen a player play with a torn MCL and ACL,” DeBoer said. “Basically, his knee is floating there. It was as courageous an effort, him doing what he did, as I’ve ever seen.”

Thornton was scheduled to have surgery on the knee later on Monday afternoon, according to general manager Doug Wilson. Prior to that, the longtime centerman met with the local media.

"I'm going to go see the doctors right after this and see what they say,” he said. “So, I'll know more about it today. I just know it was pretty sore playing."

Wilson said: “I’ve been in the business a long time. To see a player play with that type of injury tells you everything you need to know about him.”

As for a timeframe for Thornton to return, Wilson said: “Don’t know. We’ll know after [surgery].”

Thornton, an unrestricted free agent who has spent the last 12 seasons with the Sharks, said that he would like to return.

"Yeah, I want to come back. I think this is a Stanley Cup caliber team and I think I'm a little bit older and I realize how good this team is,” he said. “Of course I'd like to [return]. But, we'll have to see. I'm sure we'll be talking. But right now I haven't been a dad for a long time. I need to turn into a family man for a couple months."

Thornton said there have not been any talks yet about a contract extension.

“I just wanted to focus on hockey this year,” he said. “There's no hurry, but yeah, I want to be back. This team is a real talented team, and I love playing here."

Wilson said: “We have lots of time … We’ve got four-and-a-half months until we’re back at it.”

Thornton, who has been downplaying the injury since it occurred on April 2 – including when he said three days later that there was “no doubt” he would return for the playoff opener, and then missing the first two games of the first round series with Edmonton – struck the same tune on Monday when asked what he had to go through to suit up.

"Just the normal stuff that hockey players deal with,” he said. “It was just unfortunate, the time of the year, that it happened three games before the end of the season and the playoffs [and] you’ve got to deal with something like that. 

“Hockey players are a different breed. There's probably five or six guys that had to deal with different stuff. But it is what it is. I'll go get it checked out today, and go from there."

Although Thornton’s was the most severe, there were other Sharks playing through injury as is commonplace at the end of any NHL season. 

Tomas Hertl suffered a broken foot in the same game as Thornton on April 2 in Vancouver, while forward Patrick Marleau had a broken thumb. Logan Couture played through a mouth injury that he has already revealed will require extensive dental work this summer, while Joonas Donskoi separated his left shoulder twice over the second half of the regular season.