Aug 12, 2013, 10:53 PM EDT
Since joining the San Jose Sharks as a rookie in the 2006-07 season, Vlasic has only once had a season in which plus-minus rating was in the negative category. He doesn’t score a whole lot – just 25 goals in already 519 regular season games.
But he has turned into an otherwise reliable blue liner for the Sharks. Along with Justin Braun, Vlasic was used to almost completely shut down the Sedin twins – Daniel and Henrik – during a first-round sweep of the Canucks during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“He’s a vastly underrated player,” Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told ESPN.com this spring.
“He can skate, he’s tough, he hits, but he does it all under the radar. He’s the kind of guy coaches love.”
When Hockey Canada named its 47-man roster for the Olympic Orientation camp in August, all the usual names were on the list.
Thornton. He played for Canada’s gold-medal winning team in 2010. Boyle. He also played for Canada in 2010.
Couture is seen as a young player with a real shot at making the Canadian team for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
Among the list of defenseman was Vlasic, who just last summer had signed a five-year contract extension with the Sharks, at an annual cap hit of $4.25 million.
Becoming part of the long-term plan in San Jose was the reward for the underrated Vlasic.
So, too, was being recognized by Hockey Canada, as it will soon begin the regular season selection process for its Olympic team that looks to defend gold.
“It comes down to the player wanting to be here, understanding our commitment to winning and having to help us out a little bit to have a contract that’s fair for him and for our team-building,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told the San Jose Mercury News last summer.
“He gave us a value deal in a place where he wanted to be, and that is how it should work.”
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