Sept. 12, 2011
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Just how good a job did Sharks GM Doug Wilson do bolstering up his defensive corps this summer? San Jose now has more eligible defensemen than the team can or likely will dress on an every-night basis. Here's how the depth shakes out on the roster:
PLAYER HEIGHTWEIGHT AGE SHOOTS 22 Dan Boyle 5'11", 190lbs 35 Right 61 Justin Braun 6'2", 205lbs 24 right 88 Brent Burns 6'5", 219lbs 26 Right 60 Jason Demers 6'1", 195lbs 23 Right 3 Douglas Murray 6'3", 240lbs 31 Left 2 Jim Vandermeer 6'1", 210lbs 31 Left 44 Marc-Edourard Vlasic 6'1", 200lbs 24 Left 5 Colin White 6'4", 215lbs 33 LeftAnd here's how many predict the pairings will look:Boyle Murray - The perfect example of 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'. These two have been virtually inseparable partners for the last couple seasons as San Jose's top pair, in terms of ice time and matchups. The offensively enabled Boyle, matched with the defensive minded Murray also offer the variety of one left, and one right handed shot. Camp will sort itself out, but change is not expected with these two.Vlasic Burns - If BoyleMurray are 1, then this pair is likely to be 1A. The newly acquired Burns is everybody's early pick to be paired with Vlasic, for a multitude of reasons.
First: Burns is of similar offensive tendency to Boyle, in jumping into plays and joining the rush. Whereas Vlasic is more likely to stay-at-home, playing a responsible defensive game. This is a nice mix of yin and yang for the new teammates.
Second: You have natural right-and-left defensemen, as the two each shoot from different sides.
Third: Each of these players is tied to multiple year contracts with the Sharks... meaning they have the potential to become long-term partners, which may be a good reason to test their chemistry together, as soon as possible.But here's where it gets dicey... since San Jose isn't likely to dress 7 defensemen on a regular basis, we are left with 4 more quality NHL players... and only 2 positions to be filled in the starting lineup each night.Jason Demers is likely to be a top candidate on the 3rd pair. He had a solid last season, and was truly (and noticeably) missed in the entire Vancouver series after suffering a high ankle sprain against Detroit. Last year, Demers averaged 19:29 per game (9th highest of all skaters), including an average of 2:11 on the Power Play. Colin White would be a good partner for Demers, for all the same reasons we like the previously mentioned pairs... OffensiveDefensive, RightyLefty. He poses intimidating size and strength, which the Sharks have recently needed more of on the blue line. He is also a highly touted and respected veteran who could provide solid mentorship to the up and coming Demers.But it's hard to exclude Jim Vandermeer, a reliable and gritty veteran who in 62 games last year tallied 122 hits and 78 blocked shots with Edmonton. Not to forget super sophomore Justin Braun either, who played in 28 games last year, is a prized right-handed shot, and showed tremendous upside in terms of his NHL potential. Coming into last season, either of these players would have been considered shoe-ins to San Jose's roster, with their current credentials. A good indication of just how thick the competition is this time around.This is the dilemma, but a great one to have for Wilson, and Head Coach Todd McLellan. Too many options will likely prove to be a considerable benefit, when you consider injuries, slumps, and the ruts a team is bound to endure over the course of an 82 game regular season.Follow Brodie in real time on Twitter: @BrodieBrazilCSN