Over the past few seasons, Marc-Edouard Vlasic has become an invaluable member of the San Jose Sharks' blueline. While he may lack the offensive punch of a Brent Burns or a Dan Boyle, he's quietly emerged as, arguably, the team's most complete defenseman.
Versatility like that tends to command a pretty decent salary, especially on the unrestricted free agent market. That's where Vlasic was to be headed next summer, until GM Doug Wilson inked the pickle magnate to a five year contract extension at $4.2M per. Wilson, from the Sharks' release:
"Marc-Edouard has grown into an important part of our organization over the last six seasons," said Wilson. "He can play in all situations and has blossomed into a very trusted player on both sides of the puck. We are very happy to have him on our team for the next six seasons."
As mentioned, Vlasic plays on a blueline with Boyle and Burns, so you can imagine which side of the puck suffers most from neglect and calls for a Vlasic-ian influence.
Last year, Vlasic blossomed into a much-needed shutdown guy for the Sharks. From Fear the Fin:
After something of a down season by his standards, limited largely by having to carry Niclas Wallin around the ice for a huge chunk of the year, Marc-Edouard Vlasic bounced back terrifically in 2011-12, re-establishing himself as one of the best young shutdown defensemen in the NHL and a legitimate first-pairing blueliner on a playoff team. Initially paired with Brent Burns, the Sharks' coaching staff opted to restructure their defense corps and form a Vlasic/Dan Boyle tandem to sic against opposing first liners. Vlasic and Boyle were both among the top thirty defensemen in the NHL in terms of even-strength quality of competition this season and, additionally, Vlasic started nearly 53% of his non-neutral shifts in the defensive zone, allowing Burns and Jason Demers to be utilized in the offensive end of the rink to a much greater degree.
Burns is signed with the Sharks for the next 5 years. No surprise, then, that the team was willing to commit to Vlasic for the same amount of time.
Furthermore, considering the cost of top-four blueliners is sharply increasing each year, it was shrewd of Wilson to do this extension as soon as he could.