Shark Development Camp: Eklund meets Marleau

William Eklund, meet Mr. Shark.

The Sharks’ future collided with the Sharks’ past when Eklund met Patrick Marleau for the first time at the Sharks’ development camp in San Jose on Tuesday.

Few people, not even San Jose Barracuda head coach John McCarthy, who leads the development camp, knew the recently retired Sharks legend would be invited as a coach. Apparently, Marleau just dipped into Tuesday morning’s video session, sparking a buzz among the gathered prospects.

“Just see him in the locker room? It’s a cool thing,” Eklund said, beaming. “He’s been through a lot in the NHL, for this organization. It was huge.

The San Jose Sharks are hoping their seventh overall pick in 2021 can have much of the impact their second overall pick in 1997 had on the organization. Marleau officially retired in May as the leader of the Sharks with 1,607 games played, 522 goals and 1,111 points in teal.

Both Eklund and Marleau came to the franchise at a time when it was in flux: Marleau made his NHL debut in October 1997, San Jose two years old and short of the playoffs. Eklund made his NHL debut in October 2021, the Sharks two years and short of the playoffs.

On both teams, Eklund and Marleau were the most selected local draft picks on the roster.

Eklund, however, was unable to replicate Marleau’s freshman success. The Sharks legend had 13 goals and 19 assists during his rookie campaign, helping San Jose return to the playoffs, while the Swedish wonderkid enjoyed a nine-game cup of coffee last season, before being sent back to his SHL team.

The Sharks missed the playoffs once again, the first time in franchise history that they missed the playoffs three straight years.

But it’s a new day: Eklund arrives at this development camp already one of the Sharks’ most talented forwards – at every level. Only stars Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture are clearly ahead of him in this department. Whether the Sharks surprise, goal-hungry or not, this year probably depends a lot on Eklund.

No pressure, William.

“I don’t feel any pressure. There was a lot of pressure on me, growing up,” he said. “I like it.”

He has wider shoulders to support the weight now. The 5-foot-10 Eklund told Locked On Sharks he gained seven pounds of muscle over the summer.

Eklund confirms playing at World Juniors, talks about ‘tough’ season in SHL

But it’s not just about getting stronger and faster. The winger echoed criticism from former San Jose Sharks scouting director Doug Wilson Jr., who told the San Jose Hockey Now podcast in May that Eklund needed to stop insisting on the perfect game.

Wilson Jr. talks about the 2022 NHL Draft and Eklund’s season

“There is a lot of truth in that. My whole life I’ve been more of a first setter,” admitted Eklund. “I must [transform] only in shooting [more], there being a double threat. And that’s what I want to do this year.

But first of all: “I just want to be part of this team, that’s my biggest goal.”

NOTE: I told William that he should open a Chipotle franchise in Sweden after signing his next contract.

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