With the seventh pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks have selected William Eklund from Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL)
About William Eklund
William Eklund is one of, if not the most, highly touted forwards in the 2021 NHL Draft class. What makes him such a special player is the fact that despite being gifted in a number of ways offensively, including strong puck control, hockey IQ, and shooting, his work ethic remains his top trait. He has all the tools to be an elite, top-line winger at the NHL level, and it shouldn’t surprise anybody that he was selected in the top three.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Possibly one of the hardest-working players in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, William Eklund’s size hasn’t really come into question when scouts have talked about his game. In fact, his work ethic might be the most telling part of his game. Sure, he’s smaller, but the effort put forth combined with his hockey IQ makes him one of the more dangerous players in the game which could be why some have him ranked first overall ahead of Owen Power and Matthew Beniers.
“He’s an offensive threat whenever he touches the puck and his ability to open the ice for other players makes him that much tougher to play against as an opposing player. He sees the ice like few others and his ability to control the puck allows him to enter the offensive zone and exit his own end with control – developing plays at both ends of the ice.
“While some of them questioned his first step and explosiveness, his top speed kind of cancels out that conversation. He’s not strictly a shooter, nor is he a pass-first player, but he has the ability to chip in offensively in either sense depending on what opportunities present themselves.
“In 40 games with Djurgårdens IF last season, he posted 11 goals and 23 points playing amongst men. And while he is a smaller player, his size doesn’t always dictate his physical play. In fact, he’s not afraid to get in the corners and battle for the puck which is a testament to how hard he works.”
How This Affects the Sharks’ Plans
Make no mistake, the Sharks got an absolute steal at seventh overall in Eklund. A projected top-three pick by many, the team instantly add a dynamic, all-around offensive juggernaut with star potential in the NHL. He will instantly give a depleted Sharks’ farm system a boost on the forward front and give them a blue-chip prospect to look forward to up front. He could realistically step into the NHL as early as next season, but he’s expected to return to Sweden to develop for one more season.
Alex Hobson is a third year broadcasting student at Niagara College. He has been writing about sports since 2005 and has been with The Hockey Writers since October of 2020. He covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, World Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft, and is also part of the Maple Leafs Lounge Podcast, presented by THW. For interview requests or any other inquiries, you can follow Alex’s social media pages listed at the bottom of his articles like this one.