has always been appreciated for his defensive capabilities. Over the last four seasons with the the young blueliner has been one of the most reliable defenseman on the team, logging tough minutes against opposing teams best players and playing an invaluable role on the penalty kill.
But last week Vlasic's offensive capabilities got their chance in the spotlight, as he posted one goal, six assists, and a +7 rating on his way towards receiving the NHL's second star of the week.
Here's the full release from the NHL:
Vlasic tied for the League scoring lead last week with seven points (one goal, six assists) and posted a +7 rating as the Sharks (12-5-1) won three consecutive games and took the Pacific Division lead. Vlasic recorded the first four-point game in his six-year NHL career, tallying the game-winning goal, three assists and a career-high +5 rating in a 5-2 victory over theNov. 17.
He closed the week with three assists and a +2 rating in a 4-1 win over theNov. 20. The 24-year-old Montreal native improved his team-leading plus-minus rating to +11 and increased his season points total to 11 (two goals, nine assists), on pace to easily surpass his career high of 36 points set in 2008-09.
Considering Vlasic has been in the League for six seasons for the Sharks it's easy to forget that classifying him as a veteran defenseman, while technically correct, doesn't exactly take into account just how young and just how effective he has been with the organization since joining the team full-time in 2006.
After being drafted in 2005 via a pick the Sharks obtained when they traded Miika Kiprusoff to the, Vlasic returned to the QMHL to complete his Junior career. He proceeded to made the team out of camp as a 19 year old defenseman in 2006, where he logged the second highest amount of ice time on the blueline (averaging 22:11 per game) and finished first on the team in +/-.
It was at that point it became evident what a bright future Vlasic had; despite some minor struggles in his sophomore campaign, Vlasic has made strides every single year he's been with the club. Both Ron Wilson and Todd McLellan have trusted him immensely, evidenced by the fact Vlasic has logged at least the second highest amount of even strength ice time on the blueline during the last five seasons, and his advanced metrics have always proven that trust was well-placed and well-deserved.
Vlasic's positional play has always been exceptional, but his physical play has ramped up in recent years and made him even more of a presence in his own end. Vlasic began to make strides in this department after a fight with Daniel Briere on November 20, 2009-- it's certainly anecdotal evidence, but something that pops out at you when you reflect on his career with the Sharks.
We're certainly hoping this week of offensive acumen could jumpstart Vlasic into the forty point range this season, a plateau he hasn't sniffed since posting 36 points in 08-09. Maybe we'll look back on this week as the moment where Vlasic transitioned from one of the best defensive defenseman in the League to one of the best two-way defenseman in the League or maybe we won't-- whatever the case may be, Vlasic's play this season in the defensive end has been business as usual.
Garnishing it with a this type of offensive play just makes the dish taste all the more succulent.