A decision was required before Vlasic played 10 NHL games and GM Doug Wilson announced before the ninth on Monday that Vlasic is staying. “We’re very happy for Marc-Edouard,” Roy said from Quebec. “He deserves a lot of credit.
“He worked extremely hard. His dream was to play at the NHL level and now he has that opportunity. It’s a huge loss for our junior team. At the same time, that’s what we’re here for. It’s good for our program. It shows we’re going in the right direction.”
Wilson said he spoke with Roy, agent Bob Sauve and the teen’s parents during the weekend to let them know what he wanted to do. Vlasic can handle it, said Wilson. He played 104 junior games last season, logged more than 30 minutes ice time a game, was used in all critical situations, and helped the Roy-coached Remparts win the Memorial Cup.
“Those experiences have really fast-tracked his growth as a player,” Wilson said from Columbus, Ohio, where his team played Monday, during a conference call. “We feel he’s ready.”
Vlasic averaged 19:59 ice time in his first eight games with the Sharks. He moves the puck well and is one of San Jose’s top six defencemen. Fellow rookie Matt Carle, an American, also cracked the lineup.
One attribute in particular stands out in Wilson’s mind when he assesses Vlasic.
“He’s got an amazing amount of poise,” he said. “He does the right thing just about every time he’s on the ice.
“He’s got an advanced, very mature hockey mind. He’s mature beyond his years. His mom and dad are former defencemen. Maybe that’s where all his brains come from.”
Asked if the Montreal-born teen might be released to Canada’s junior team for the world tournament this winter, Wilson said it was a distinct possibility because the Sharks encourage their players to play internationally.
“We’ll make that decision as we go forward,” said Wilson.
The six-foot-one, 190-pound blue-liner was San Jose’s second choice, 35th overall, in the 2005 entry draft.
Vlasic will billet with a family. He is under contract to the Sharks for US$735,000 a year for three years.
Wilson lauded Roy’s role in Vlasic’s emergence.
“It was a great experience for Marc-Edouard to play in Quebec City for Patrick Roy,” said Wilson. “I can not give enough credit to him for what he’s done to help get Marc-Edouard to this point.”
Vlasic was first among defencemen and eighth among all skaters in the QMJHL scoring race last season with 73 points including 57 assists. He had a plus-minus rating of plus-41 in 66 regular-season games. In 23 post-season games, he had five goals and 24 assists.
“I expected him to have a good training camp with San Jose,” said Roy. “I don’t think they thought he would make their team but he responded to every challenge.
“He’s very disciplined. He’s smart on the ice. He reads the play well. When you’re telling him things, he catches on fast.”
Vlasic has been so impressive that the Sharks couldn’t send him down.
“We think he’ll be a very good defenceman in this league for a long, long time,” Wilson said.