Sharks announce affiliation with Bulls and contract extension for Vlasic

The Sharks have just confirmed the news that Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been signed to a five year extension.  They didn’t confirm the money part, they never do that.  Rumor has it at $4.2m per.  But the term, the most exciting part, they announced.  Hooray, thank the hockey gods, Vlasic and Wilson for that.  If Vlasic weren’t under contract with the Sharks for another season, you know teams would have been chasing him because he’s that awesome.  Phew.

Capgeek now has contracts listed for Matsumoto, McLaren, and McCarthy.  Odd that they still have nothing on Kennedy.  Also still pending are RFAs Pelech, Petrecki, Sheppard and Mashinter.

It may not be a big surprise, but the Sharks and the Bulls made their affiliation official today.  I’m sure we weren’t supposed to read too much into the late season presence of Rawhide and Bulls gear at Sharks games, but I did.

During their time with the Stockton Thunder, the Sharks only sent goalies to play in the ECHL.  Jason Demers spent a fitful (for fans) day on the Stockton Thunder roster back in 2010.  He didn’t play.

How often do NHL teams place their developing players with their ECHL teams?  I didn’t find many, and usually those players are goaltenders.  I did find a few ECHL skaters under contract with the Bruins and the Wild.  I didn’t get any further in my research because it wouldn’t prove anything beyond what I know—the ECHL is one of several options for players making careers in professional hockey.  An NHL team therefore has more options for that development level than they have for AHL level play.  The ECHL is competing with Canadian leagues, European teams and colleges for players.

The geographic proximity of San Francisco to San Jose might give the Bulls an advantage, as does their exclusive affiliation with the Sharks.  The Sharks can have more input about how their players are used than they might have had sharing an ECHL team with the Oilers.  That may balance out the lack of a second affiliation for the Bulls, which may have provided a couple more players for their roster.

The ECHL has been making a mark in the professional hockey landscape, and with their stated intention to serve as a development league for the AHL and NHL, there should be some increased interest from NHL teams to use them as such.  There is certainly something to be said for having prospects nearer than the far coast.


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