SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Milan Michalek agreed to a six-year, $26 million contract extension with the San Jose Sharks on Friday, keeping the talented young forward in teal through 2014.
The Czech, a 22-year-old right wing, is considered a rising star after just two full NHL campaigns. He was San Jose's fourth-leading scorer last year, compiling career highs of 26 goals, 40 assists and a plus-17 rating while mostly playing on the second line with captain Patrick Marleau.
Michalek will make about $942,000 next season in the final year of his current contract. His new deal will pay $3 million in 2008-09, making him a key part of the Sharks' core along with Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo and former MVP Joe Thornton.
"I'm really happy in San Jose," Michalek said. "I'm glad they wanted me for so long, because I wanted that, too. We're going to be very good for a long time and win a lot of Cups. I like playing with great players like Patty, Cheech and Joe."
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has presided over Michalek's development over his four years in San Jose since being the sixth overall pick in the 2003 draft. Wilson witnessed Michalek's resilience after a knee injury scrapped his 2003-04 season after just two games with the Sharks.
Through months of talks with Michalek's agents, Wilson saw an opportunity to lock up another of the Sharks' topflight talents in a long-term deal. Cheechoo is about to begin the second season of a five-year, $15 million deal, and Thornton - the NHL's second-leading scorer last season - agreed on July 1 to a three-year, $21.6 million extension through 2011.
"We know (Michalek), he knows us, (and) we think we have a pretty good read on where he's going to go as a player," Wilson said.
And by signing Michalek to a lengthy deal, the Sharks made sure they'll be protected against the possibility of being forced to match a huge offer sheet from another team when Michalek could become a restricted free agent next summer.
Michalek signed a deal that extends through what would be his first years of eligibility for unrestricted free agency - a concession Wilson requested in return for the total financial deal.
"There's always some risk in this type of thing," Wilson said. "You take a risk, and a player takes a risk."
With Wilson's emphasis on youth and long-term planning in his construction of the Sharks, the club still has one of the NHL's lowest payrolls heading into the upcoming season, though some fans wish they didn't. The club failed to sign a big-name free agent defenseman to replace Scott Hannan, who left for Colorado.