The entry-level slide is a rather well-known concept now in the salary cap world. Otherwise known as the ’nine-game rule’, it permits teams to conserve years on an 18- or 19-year-old player’s entry-level contract by deferring or sliding the start of the contract by a season (or two), provided they don’t play nine games or less at the NHL level in a season.

It’s not something often thought about with players of European origin, as it’s rather uncommon for a European-based player to make a team out of camp at this age unless fully NHL-ready. But the San Jose Sharks took a chance this year on 2020 draft selection William Eklund, and it’s largely paid off. As the team’s roared off to a 4-1-0 start, they’ve largely been propelled by the competence of their rookie class — including Eklund. With three assists in four games, Eklund’s showing flashes of potential and already showing the value the Sharks got with a seventh-overall selection.