Sharks surprisingly sending top prospect Eklund back to AHL

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Despite scoring his first two NHL goals in back-to-back games this week, Sharks top prospect William Eklund was sent back to the San Jose Barracuda late Friday night.

Coach David Quinn confirmed the move to reporters at SAP Center after the Sharks' 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders.

Eklund was seen coming out of Quinn's office, along with first-year general manager Mike Grier, per The Athletic's Corey Masisak.

In eight games with the Sharks this season, Eklund has two goals, one assist and 18 shots on goal. His first career NHL goal came Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he added his second goal two days later on a penalty shot against the Seattle Kraken.

So why was Eklund sent down? The objective is to get the 20-year-old experience playing in meaningful games, per The Bay Area News Group's Curtis Pashelka, who was there for Quinn's postgame press conference after Saturday's game.

The Barracuda (26-29-1; 57 points) currently are in seventh place in the AHL Pacific Division standings, and the top seven teams in the division qualify for the playoffs.

This is the second time in as many seasons the Sharks have sent Eklund out, much to his disappointment. Last season, after he played in nine games for San Jose, they sent him back to his Swedish team before he played in his 10th game in order to save a season on his rookie contract.

The Sharks have the second-worst record in the NHL through Saturday's game (19-37-14; 52 points), so all they are playing for is pride at this point. Eklund was gaining valuable experience in San Jose, but clearly, management felt AHL playoff games will be better for him.

RELATED: Where Sharks' trade deadline acquisitions rank among top 10 prospects

Time will tell if the Sharks are making the right decision for Eklund or if they are aggravating him to the point that he doesn't want to be in San Jose long term.

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