The San Jose Sharks are playing their best hockey of the season as their offensive and defensive performances are complementing each other. One player who has been on both sides of that equation for the Sharks is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Vlasic has been San Jose’s best shutdown defensemen for quite some time, but the 28-year-old is on pace for a career season from a point production standpoint. After picking up an assist on Joel Ward’s opening goal last night, Vlasic extended his point streak to eight games, all assists, as he tied Brent Burns for the longest such streak by a defensemen in franchise history.
It’s been an under-the-radar run from Vlasic of late as many equate his skills with shutting down the opposition rather than punishing them. However, Vlasic has continued his evolution as a player and remains an indispensable part of this Sharks team.
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He has developed into a key leader on the ice, and has shown much more bite to his game over the years. In 52 games this year, Vlasic is on pace for a career-high in all the major offensive categories as he’s netted seven goals and 25 assists thus far. His 32 points rank sixth on the Sharks, and only four points shy of his previous career best, as he has provided a consistent offensive presence behind Burns from the blue line.
But it hasn’t just been the offensive end of the ice where Vlasic has excelled. He is averaging the second-most average ice time per game of his career at 23:32 a night, and that was on full display in San Jose’s shutout victory over Chicago last week. In that contest, Vlasic logged a team-high 30 minutes of ice time as he was instrumental in blanking the high-flying Blackhawks.
Also, Vlasic is tied for third on the team with his defensive partner Justin Braun with a plus-eight rating as the pair is often deployed against the opposition’s top line.
The crazy part of all of this is Vlasic is in his 10th season with the Sharks and he continues to expand his overall game. He has started to garner more attention across the league after being named to Canada’s Gold medal team in Sochi back in 2014, and he was recently a part of Pierre Lebrun’s selections for Team Canada’s World Cup roster this summer.
All-in-all, it’s been another solid season for Vlasic as you never have to worry about number 44 in teal. He will look to set the Sharks franchise record for consecutive games with a point when San Jose takes on the Florida Panthers tomorrow, which seems pretty remarkable from a guy like Vlasic who has never been considered an offensive juggernaut.