San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced last week that defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
will remain in San Jose this season.
Vlasic has played in all 12 of the Sharks games this season, averaging just under twenty minutes per game (19:53), bettered on the team only by Scott Hannan (21:24), Kyle McLaren (20:27) and Christian Ehrhoff (20:13). He made his NHL debut on Oct. 5 vs. St. Louis and posted his first NHL point with an assist on Oct. 23 at Columbus.
"He's got an amazing amount of poise," said Wilson. "He moves the puck very well. He does the right thing almost every time he's on the ice. He's mature beyond his years."
Vlasic spent the last three seasons with the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he was coached by legendary NHL goaltender Patrick Roy. Last season as an alternate captain, he was fourth in scoring among all QMJHL defensemen, eighth overall among all skaters, with 73 points, including 57 assists. He also finished the season plus-41 in 66 games.
In the post-season, Vlasic led all QMJHL defensemen in scoring and was fifth overall with 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 23 games. His 24 assists were second among all QMJHL skaters and first among all QMJHL defensemen. In helping lead his team to a Memorial Cup Championship, he finished tied-for-third in scoring among defensemen with three assists in four Memorial Cup games and led all players with a plus-seven. In the championship game, he assisted on two goals, including the game-winner.
The Sharks are excited about having Vlasic for the duration of the season and plan to let him develop at the NHL level.
"He's here to play," added Wilson. "It defeats the purpose if he doesn't play. You can't really put a value on a winning environment. I'm not going to put any limitations on what he can become."
The 195-pound, six-foot-one defenseman was one of the final 34 players in Team Canada’s selection camp for the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Tournament.
The Montreal native was originally selected by San Jose in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (35th overall).
Rink Report had a chance to sit down with Vlasic to ask him various questions about his game. Below is a full transcript of the conversation:
Describe your style of play.
I think I’m good defensively, I move the puck up quickly, I’ve got a good first pass, I can join the rush and I have good vision of the play.
Before training camp, what were your expectations for the upcoming hockey season?
My expectations were to make the team and have a spot on the roster. That was my objective throughout the camp and I didn’t let that go.
Once you learned you would be on the opening night roster, were there certain goals you set for yourself?
I just tried to play my game and tried to make sure I played well so the coach would keep me in the lineup. I haven’t really thought about my points or scoring a goal yet, that will come with time.
Who has been the most helpful for you on the team?
Scott Hannan has been the most helpful so far. He’s been my partner since the beginning of the season and he’s helped me out a lot both on and off the ice. There’s a lot of other guys who have helped me out too, like Brown, Grier and Thornton. Everybody helps everyone else out in this locker room.
How has the team accepted you on and off the ice?
They’ve accepted me as one of the players. I’ve played well and have earned my spot and they’ve noticed that. They’ve come up with a nickname for me (Pickles) and it’s stuck. Being the youngest guy it’s a lot of fun, but I feel like I’m one of the guys.
Now that you have opened people’s eyes with your play, do you feel any pressure?
Not really. I’ve played in front of big crowds, so I guess I’m used to playing with a little pressure, but I don’t feel any more pressure. I’m here to play my game and playing well is my objective.
Has winning a Memorial Cup helped you prepare for playing in big NHL games?
I think it has. Playing a lot in the big games has probably helped me get to the NHL. Being coached by Patrick Roy helped as well.
How much does the NHL differ from the QMJHL and what is the biggest difference?
I’d have to say the biggest difference between the two leagues is speed and quickness of the players. Their passing and shooting is a lot faster. Guys are bigger and stronger so the step up isn’t as easy as people may think.
How do you like living in San Jose?
I like it so far. I’m still stuck at the hotel, but as long as I get to stay here I don’t mind. It’s a beautiful city, the fans are great and the organization has treated me very well. I couldn’t ask for any more.