San Jose Sharks Sign Brad Stuart – New look Defense the Answer?

As expected, defenseman Brad Stuart has signed with the San Jose Sharks to the tune of 3.6 million per for 3 years. It was no small secret that Stuart wanted to return “home” to his wife and daughter, who had to live in California during Stuart’s Red Wing tenure.

Stuart had 21 points and a plus-16 rating in 81 games for Detroit this past season, while playing huge roles in the penalty kill.

With the addition, it reshapes the Sharks defensive corps quite a bit while giving the Sharks a solid top 4 with Boyle, Burns, Vlasic and Stuart. Given Boyle’s age, some may be quick to relegate 22 to the second pairing…. not so fast I would counter.

Boyle struggled a tad early in the year due to injury ( broken foot ) and while fans were heaping dirt on the veteran, he answered and quieted his critics by rebounding nicely after the first month of the season.

With the 8th best Fenwick score on the team and best 5v5 rating from any Sharks defender, it’s clear that Boyle is as important as ever to the Sharks even strength success. Boiler also posted a team high 1.199 Corsi REL QoC, and was fourth on the team with a +1.7 RelCorsi.

Depending on how close you feel the team is to reaching the ever elusive Stanley Cup Finals ( shut up LA ), you may be inclined to see the Sharks roll out :

  • Boyle – Burns
  • Stuart – Vlasic
  • Braun – ????

Top Five Questions after signing Stuart:

5. How many minutes will Boyle play?

He’s led the team in minutes the past 2 seasons, and he still averaged 19.26, good for 2nd on the team. With his age as a factor and the kind of game he plays, the added depth will most certainly give Boiler a chance to be fresh come playoff time.

4. How hard will the coaching staff push Burns?

Brent was up and down in his first season with the Sharks, and it’s a fair question to ask whether or not the coaches gave him more minutes because of Doug Wilson. Given the high price the Sharks paid, it’s a fair question for a defender that led the team in giveaways, turnovers and looked lost some nights.

Burns did turn it up late in the season, scoring 24 points in 36 games from Jan. 7 through March 24, but overall I think it’s fair to say the Sharks haven’t gotten what they expected out of Burns.

Question is, how much are they willing to sacrifice to make sure Burns nets the proper return? If it’s merely a situation of giving him his minutes, I’m all for it. But take minutes away from Braun or possibly Demers, in the quest to pad Brent’s stats and that’s where I draw the line.

3. Will Jason Demers ever show up?

Pretty simple huh? After showing promise and being trusted more and more in late crucial situations in 2010, Demers fell on his face this past year and is quickly becoming an afterthought. With the addition of Stuart, and assuming Crankshaft does not get moved, Demers will have his work cut out for him to earn a roster spot.

2. What impact will Stuart have?

Sadly, I think he’ll just be marginally better than Burns was this year defensively, and won’t approach Brent’s production offensively. Depth and a big minute muncher, but at this stage of his career, it’s a long shot to expect Stuart to make a HUGE impact.

1. What other trades will go down?

Douglas Murray is quickly looking like the Shark without a seat when the music stops, and if so, who will Wilson bring in?

San Jose gave up a promising youngster in Devin Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and dropped the team’s first pick in this year’s draft for Burns, and the lack of forward depth made the team look pedestrian.

In fact, one can argue the Sharks are worse off than when they made the Heatley trade, when we were looking for that scorer in the playoffs, remember that?

Whatever trades are to come, I am hoping that it won’t involve Rick Nash. Here’s to hoping against  hope.

Go Sharks.


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