Correction: An email to Ian correctly pointed out players drafted out of Europe have a four-year signing window. That pushes his signing deadline until 2019. So crisis averted. Yay.
The original article follows.
Today an article by Mike Halford on NBC Sports got Sharks’ fans concerned about the potential future of Rudolfs Balcers who’s having himself quite the season in the WHL for the Kamloops Blazers. Balcers, 19, is a Latvian-born forward selected by the Sharks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in the 5th round, 142nd overall. In my three part, top 20 prospects series that will come out starting tomorrow right here on Fear The Fin I have him ranked 16th.
When Balcers was drafted he was playing for the Stavanger Oilers of the top league in Norway where he scored 15 goals and 19 assists in 43 games. This year he made the jump to North America to get acclimated to the North American game which was good for his development but also hit fast forward on his timeline for when he’d need an entry level contract. Playing with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL he has exploded in production scoring 40 goals and 36 assists in 64 games.
From the NBC Sports Article:
Balcers has 40 goals in 64 games this year, tops among first-year players. He’s two goals away from matching Scottie Upshall‘s club record for goals by a rookie — set way back in 2000-01 — and is hopeful his play will earn him a deal from the Sharks, who have until June to ink him to an entry-level contract.
If they don’t, they’ll relinquish his rights.
“We haven’t really talked about signing or anything yet,” Balcers said, per Kamloops This Week. “I don’t think they’ve signed anyone yet this season. It’s their decision, so I’m basically just waiting to see what’s going to happen.”
Balcers said his goal is to sign with the Sharks, but also suggested that if he goes unsigned, “maybe I can get a better offer in Europe.”
Ian Plays Devil's Advocate
This seems like a no-brainer signing on the surface for Doug Wilson who, according to CapFriendly, has used 44 out of a possible 50 contracts. However as easy as it is to get excited about his numbers it is important to keep in mind he is a 19, a man among children.
When Scottie Upshall set the record Balcers could break he was two years younger. Balcers plays a very perimeter game and will suffer from many of the same criticisms that Nikolay Goldobin did (who has far more offensive upside). Maybe they don’t see room for him in a jammed forward pipeline.
I’m Not Worried
All of the above is speculation and there is a lot of time left for them to get a deal done. The Blazers are playoff bound and will be hosted by the Kelowna Rockets in the first round, as long as he is playing there isn’t a rush to get a deal done with literally months to go.
Of course, I said this about Dylan Sadowy last year. As long as he is still actually playing I wouldn’t worry. Should he and the Blazers be eliminated from the WHL playoffs and not sign almost immediately to a deal for next year or at minimum an Amateur Tryout Contract with the Baracuda I will join you in pressing the panic button.