Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic has spent the entirety of his eight-year NHL career with the San Jose Sharks. The club drafted him in the second round of the 2005 Entry Draft and the defenseman earned a roster spot the following season as an 18-year-old. Vlasic finished his rookie year with 26 points and a plus/minus rating of +13 while showcasing poise and maturity far beyond his age.
Now, the Quebec native has solidified his role as San Jose’s top shutdown defenseman. He routinely logs upwards of 20 minutes of ice time each game and is matched up against the opposition’s best scorers. Known for his strong stick-work and flawless positioning, Vlasic is among the league’s elite defensive defensemen. He’s not a household name by any stretch, but his play over the last few seasons caught the attention of Team Canada management and the 26-year-old rearguard earned a roster spot on the Canadian Olympic squad in Sochi this year.
If you watch Vlasic play, you probably won’t notice him on the ice. When it comes to shutdown defensemen, though, that’s a good thing. Vlasic is rarely caught out of position and has an uncanny ability to break up scoring chances for the opposition by simply being in the right place.
He’s not a Drew Doughty or Shea Weber. He doesn’t have a hard shot, he’s not particularly physical and his skating abilities are roughly average. Vlasic did have one strong season offensively when he registered 36 points in 2008-09, but he hasn’t managed to hit the 30-point plateau since. In 59 appearances this season, Vlasic has four goals and 14 assists for 18 points.
More offensive production would be nice, but the fact of the matter is that Vlasic is paid to play defense. It’s his role with the Sharks, and he does it very well. Vlasic currently has the team’s third-best plus/minus rating at +15 and he’s a critical piece of the penalty-killing unit, which ranks eighth in the league. He’s the club’s go-to shutdown guy on the back end and, alongside defensive partner Justin Braun, has played a massive role in helping the Sharks keep the puck out of their net. The team has allowed just 137 goals against, which ties them with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the fourth-fewest goals surrendered.
Vlasic is the backbone of San Jose’s defense and he has consistently performed at a high level this season. He gets an “A” on his report card.