The San Jose Sharks agreed to terms on a 5-year, $21M extension with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic this afternoon. The news was originally reported by TVN Sports on Twitter just before 2 PM, and the club confirmed it shortly thereafter.

Vlasic was scheduled to become a free agent after the upcoming 2012-13 season, but the newest contract extension – which accounts for a $4.2M cap hit annually – has the 25-year old D-man locked up until the 2017-18 season.

He addressed the idea of feeling out the NHL market on a conference call with the media this afternoon.

“I could have tested [free agency]. I could have maybe got more. I could have got less. It’s only speculation. But I’m happy I signed for five years with the Sharks… I’m very excited.”

Considering the Sharks recent defensive troubles, this signing is a vote of confidence from General Manager Doug Wilson.

“It comes down to the player wanting to be here, and understanding our commitment to winning, and having to help us out a little bit to be able to have a contract that’s fair for him and our team-building,” Wilson said. “Marc-Edouard certainly participated in that, and gave us, we think, a value deal in a place that he wanted to be. That’s how it should work.”

Under the tutelage of new assistant coach Larry Robinson, Vlasic will continue to build chemistry on one of the top two defensive pairings – along with either Brent Burns or Dan Boyle. He was arguably the best defenseman on the team last year, as Fear The Fin notes in their fantastic season review on Vlasic:

Although Vlasic will never be an offensive dynamo, he provides tons of value with his ability to face the opposition’s best players on a nightly basis, starting primarily in his own zone, and still help ensure opponents have the puck less frequently than the Sharks do using his positional smarts and active stick. The proof can be found in the aforementioned quality of competition leaderboard. Among the thirty defensemen on that list, only Nicklas LidstromKimmo Timonen and Brent Seabrook posted better on-ice Corsi rates than Vlasic and all of them had the advantage of starting a greater percentage of their shifts in the offensive zone than Vlasic did (in the case of Lidstrom, 10% more).

But the Sharks’ longest contracted player knows that he still has some work to do.

“I think I can do more everywhere, especially offensively,” he said. “Not necessarily to rack up tons of points, but just to create more offensively.” He had 4 goals and 23 assists in 82 games last year – not astounding numbers by any stretch.

Although the club has not announced whether or not the contract contains a no-movement clause, Vlasic certainly seemed confident that he wasn’t going anywhere.

“There’s a good chance I’ll be a Shark for the next six years, and I want to be a Shark for the next six years, as well.”

That’s never a bad thing to hear, especially when the player saying it is one of the top defensemen in the NHL.