In an early and surprising move, the San Jose Sharks sent forward Andrew Murray and a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings for the rights to unrestricted free agent defenseman Brad Stuart ( according to CSN Bay Area )
Brad Stuart Vitals :
Brad Stuart, Defenseman #23
32 Years Old (November 6, 1979)
6’2″, 215 lbs
12 Full NHL Seasons (876 career regular season games played) – the last four seasons and change with Detroit
Drafted 3rd overall in 1998 by the San Jose Sharks
While it may appear on the surface that the Sharks win in this lopsided trade, the acquisition ( pending a signed contract ) of Stuart will most certainly raise more questions than solve them.
Before weighing in on the move, let’s be clear in that while this wasn’t a “hockey” trade and the Red Wings most likely weren’t going to bring Stuart back, it’s still a huge win for Doug Wilson and a win for the Red Wings as well.
After all, Holland moving Stuart for almost little to nothing surely reveals the level of interest in re-upping with the Red Wings.
While Detroit GM Ken Holland may have landed some late round keepers, it’s safe to assume that this move was done for Stuart, who wanted to be back with his family, given the likelihood of Murray making the Red Wings roster ( little to none ).
While Stuart is on the wrong side of 30 and was never a fluid skater to begin with, he brings depth, experience and ability on the PK. Brad Stuart, had six goals and 15 assists in 81 games last season, while posting a solid +16 rating while leading the Red Wings in hits 177.
Most importantly, he can be counted on from day one to step in and help correct a horrible penalty kill unit that floundered last season.
- On the Penalty Kill - Stuart is more than capable of being a rock on the penalty kill unit, having logged 257:16 of penalty kill minutes.
- Depth – Stuart allows the Sharks to roll multiple different pairings, depending on which Sharks stay and go. Boyle, Stuart, Vlasic, Murray, Burns is a pretty good top 5 so far.
- Experience – Stuart has been through many battles and knows what it takes to win in the postseason. His role and experience can do wonders for youngsters on the team like Justin Braun.
- While he’s not really known for it, Stuart can lay the wood and do it in crucial situations :
- Brad Stuart is on the wrong side of 30, and won’t add to overall team speed. In other words, he’s not going to be taking a puck on a Drew Doughty end-to-end rush anytime soon.
- Stuart allowed a team high 30 PPGA, shorthanded goals against as a defenseman.
- Stuart was also second worse on the team in PPGA/30
- Stuart didn’t look like himself late last season for the Winged Wheel, and struggled against Nashville with a -5 rating in the playoffs.
- Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Douglas Murray, Brent Burns and Justin Braun are penciled into the defensive pairings, could someone be on the outside looking in? ( more on that later )
- Stuart’s signing means it’s unlikely the Sharks get involved in the Suter Sweepstakes.
With the expected signing of Stuart, you can bet that the Sharks blueline will look a lot tougher next year. Paired with Burns, Boyle or Vlasic would be a terrific duo with Stuart on the backend, the problem is will someone be moved?
The obvious target is fan favorite Douglas Murray, who looked a step too slow last year and struggled through injuries. And at 2.5 million a year may be priced too high for a bottom pairing defenseman, but priced just right for a trade scenario.
While Crankshaft may be the target and may end up being moved, I think the bolder move would be finding a trade partner for Dan Boyle. He’s still a high impact defender who can move the puck and add punch to a powerplay.
Boyle is signed through 2014 and is being paid almost $7 million a year, and will be 36 this upcoming year. After June 12, 2012 Boyle’s NTC has an exclusion that allows the club to move him to any one of the NHL teams, outside of a select eight that Boyle can dictate.
He’s a natural leader, a saavy puck handler and has been a terrific leader in the locker room for years….. But it’s time to move him while the Sharks still can and maximize the return.
It’s a huge win for the Sharks, let’s not try to confuse the issue. It would be nice to see Stuart come in, and start laying the wood and taking the team by the horns. If he is a first or second pairing defender that can eat 20+ minutes a night and play serious minutes on the pk, it’s a huge win. While many Sharks fans are quickly jumping on the negative bandwagon, saying that Stuart doesn’t hit anyone despite being having a huge frame, I say who cares?
Even if he reverts back to the big young defenseman who didn’t like to hit people, as I remember him last in teal, it’s still a big win.
Bottom line? trading A. Murray (a UFA) and a 2014 7th isn’t like giving up a roster asset, so little of value was spent to have exclusive negotiating rights.