Marc-Edouard Vlasic

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Vlasic joins Canada for Worlds, extending marathon campaign

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.

On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.

Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.

From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.

In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.

And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.

During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

Sharks say getting Jones, Vlasic signed before camp ‘a priority’

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Doug Wilson has a busy summer ahead.

Decisions need to be made on veteran leaders Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, both pending UFAs. Those figure to be crucial negotiations but, to hear the Sharks GM explain it, there are equally vital deals to be reached with goalie Martin Jones, and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

“Both of them are extremely important to get under contract,” Wilson said yesterday, per NBC Sports California. “We can start those discussions in the next little while.”

Both Jones and Vlasic have one year remaining on their current deals, and are eligible to sign extensions on July 1. Wilson said it’s a “priority” to get them done before September’s training camp.

Jones, 27, is heading into the last of a three-year, $9 million deal with a $3M average annual cap hit. It’s safe to assume he’s in for a lengthy extension with a significant raise, given how good he’s been since joining the Sharks. He backstopped them to the Cup Final last season and has been one of the league’s busiest workhorses, starting 65 games in each of the last two years.

Vlasic, 30, has spent his entire 10-year career in San Jose. He’s developed a reputation as one of the league’s better defensive defensemen, strengthened by his role on Canada’s gold medal-winning side at the 2014 Olympics, and 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

At this point, it’s fair to speculate when all these deals will get done. Wilson has a full plate with the four aforementioned negotiations, and also has to hammer out contracts for a trio of RFA forwards — Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Chris Tierney.

Marleau says he wants to return to Sharks, but it might not be so easy

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It seemed strangely fitting that Patrick Marleau scored the final goal of the San Jose Sharks’ season as the Edmonton Oilers eliminated them in Game 6.

Monday presented questions about what that goal means.

For one thing, it definitely doesn’t sound like Marleau expects that to be his final goal in the NHL, as he believes he has “at least five good years in me, or maybe more,” according to NBC Sports California’s Kevin Kurz.

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

The 37-year-old made a strong argument that he can still light up the lamp in 2016-17. He scored 27 goals and 46 points during the regular season and ended his playoff run with three goals and an assist (all in the final three contests vs. Edmonton).

Marleau was especially effective once the new year rolled around, collecting 29 points in his last 41 games.

Before we get to the more unpleasant stuff, let’s watch that last goal:

So … yeah, that’s a pretty convincing case that he can at least still play now.

The bigger question is: if Marleau really wants term, are the Sharks willing to give him what he’s looking for?

Marleau admitted that discussions on an extension haven’t even happened yet. When you consider the upcoming challenges for San Jose, you wonder if this is it for a player who’s suited up for a whopping 1,493 regular season games with the franchise (even after there were significant trade rumors over the years).

Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s outstanding value $4.25 million cap hit evaporates after 2017-18, and the same can be said for Martin Jones‘ $3 million mark. One could imagine the Sharks approaching Marleau with a very appealing one-year offer, but it would be a big leap to imagine the franchise going for a guy who’s approaching 40 instead of a solid starting goalie and one of the best pure defensemen in the NHL.

So, really, the question isn’t “Will Marleau really play for five more years?” Instead, it might be “Does Marleau value playing for the Sharks enough to take a shorter deal or does he want that term right now?”

Crosby disappointed in NHL’s Olympic decision

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The scorer of Canada’s golden goal won’t be headed back to the Olympics next year.

Needless to say, he’s not happy about it.

“It’s disappointing,” Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said on Tuesday, per Upgruv. “I think when you hear about the negotiations and things like that, I really thought something was going to be able to get worked out.

“Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

It’s not surprising to learn of Crosby’s disappointment. He’s carved out a terrific international hockey resume and, given he turns 30 this summer, might not have many opportunities left to represent Canada. It’s a role he clearly cherishes. He’s captured two Olympic gold medals for his country — famously scoring the OT winner against the U.S. in 2010 in Vancouver, then captaining the Canadians to victory at the ’14 Games in Sochi.

Crosby was asked if he’d still consider going to the Olympics next year.

“I haven’t even really thought that far, to be honest,” he explained. “It’s a difficult situation to be in, no doubt, and I know some guys have been vocal about going regardless, but I’m not sure if I’m going to take it quite that far yet.”

Crosby isn’t the only player to voice his displeasure about the NHL’s decision not to participate in South Korea. San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist were two of the more prominent names to express displeasure on Twitter, while a number of other players told reporters they were also disappointed.

Related: NHLPA ‘extraordinarily disappointed’ with Olympic decision

 

 

Players absolutely roast NHL’s decision to skip 2018 Winter Olympics

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There are plenty of takes balancing the blame for the NHL skipping the 2018 Winter Olympics between the league, the players and the IOC. The NHLPA is having none of that.

Of all the responses to that decision – and this post will get to a few key players’ responses – the union really ripped into the NHL for a “shortsighted decision.”

Here’s the full release via the NHLPA, with a transcript below it:

“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics.

Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.

A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead, this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.

Moreover, it is doing so after financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The league’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself.

NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL’s decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans.”

Phew. /wipes away sweat

There are already people responding to this release with fear of lockouts, which … (reaches for antacid).

Anyway, on a day of run-of-the-mill, PR-speak-soaked releases, it’s nice to see a little spirit in this response. Key players like Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have added to the discontented fray.

See Price’s thoughts in the video above this post’s headline, while Lundqvist was pretty straightforward:

… And Vlasic was a bit more symbolic:

Much has been made about players like Alex Ovechkin possibly participating anyway, while other players like Erik Karlsson may receive a “flat-no” for doing so.

Speaking of that …

Overall? Well, the NHL’s apparently putting discussions on hold:

So … kind of a mess, but at least this added some spice to something that’s been almost universally sour for fans (and, apparently, players?).