Sharks spotlight: Justin Braun


Sharks spotlight: Justin Braun

Editor's note: Over the next month, Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz and Postgame Live reporter Brodie Brazil will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Sharks spotlight -- the series
Sharks spotlight: Justin BraunAge: 25 DIn his second NHL season, defenseman Justin Braun had twogoals and nine assists for 11 points and 23 penalty minutes in 66 games. He wasscoreless with 15 penalty minutes in five playoff games.Kurz says: If in 20 years Braun looks back on whatwas a long and prosperous career, hell remember the 2011-12 season as the onein which he established himself as an everyday NHL player. Braun started theseason in Worcester, but was recalled on Oct. 22 thanks mostly to Jason Demersearly struggles. He was in and out of the lineup for about a month and a half,returned to Worcester at the end of November, but was back after just two gameswhen Douglas Murray got hurt for the first time.Braun cemented his place in the lineup late in the seasonwhen he was put on the second power play unit, and he played in all but twogames after the All-Star break. After beginning the year ninth on the depthchart, Braun was a more effective and valuable player than Murray, JasonDemers, Colin White and the rarely used Jim Vandermeer by the time the seasonwas through.SLIDESHOW: Grading the Sharks
Brodie says: It waskind of cool that Braun regularly wore a Worcester Sharks t-shirt underhis shoulder pads this season. But itwas quite clear after success midway through the NHL campaign, that he was notheaded back to Massachusetts anytime soon.Its a regular question asked: who is the best skater on theteam? And although Patrick Marleau andTorrey Mitchell might have the speed contest won, Justin Braun displays someimpressive skills. Long levers enableJustin to accelerate with power. As wellin the offensive zone, he changes angles up high; moving the puck laterallyalong the blueline with grace and quickness thanks to some impressivetechnique. Yes, a lot of d-men do this,but not many with the fancy footwork of Braun.
It should also be pointed out that Braun has (at least) abetter-than-average shot from the point.Similar to skating, his physical build offers a lot of torque when hewinds up for a slap shot, but also can put some good velocityaccuracy on awrister as well.Justin and Tommy Wingels could be thrown in the samebig-picture evaluation. Both hadestablishing seasons with the Sharks, where they were called in and made themost of opportunities given earning regular spots in the lineup. For Braun, it was even a tougher job tocrack, given the lesser starting spots for a defenseman. 2012-13 expectationsKurz says: While he shouldnt be considered untouchable likeLogan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who look to be future cornerstones ofthe franchise, Justin Braun is among San Joses most valuable young players. Heis defensively responsible, has good size, can contribute on the power play,and has shown strong leadership qualities despite a young age. Thats why, whenthe Sharks were eliminated in the postseason, Braun was asked to play for Team USAin the World Championships the first time hes ever represented his countryin international play.
Brauns spot on the 2012-13 roster is a virtual certainty,and theres no reason to think he wont continue his progress.RELATED: Justin Brauns stats splits game logs
Brodie says: My biggest question for guys like Braun andTommy Wingels will they be the first Shark players in a while to trade intheir rookie jersey numbers for lower ones?In all seriousness, we know he will get the opportunity, butits going to be important for Justin to maintain this year not only hisprogress as a young player but also his development. The good news is that he set the bar high,but not impossibly out of reach, so that achieving expectations is somethingattainable. He has all the right ingredients: youth, strength, size,speed, and so far what appears to be a noticeably high hockey IQ at the NHLlevel. Essentially, there seems to be amassive amount of potential for the American defenseman, but maybe the best approachis to focus on the shorter-term. Andthat would be to continue producing on the second power play unit, and tryingto crack a consistent spot as a top-4 D.
Up next: Andrew Desjardins

Couture expected back in Sharks lineup 'at some point'

Couture expected back in Sharks lineup 'at some point'

SAN JOSE – While a definitive timeline is still uncertain, Logan Couture is expected back in the Sharks’ lineup this season after taking a puck to the face and losing several teeth on Saturday in Nashville.

The center was set to undergo dental work on Monday, according to coach Pete DeBoer, who indicated that the injury was perhaps not quite as bad as it looked.

“You see him the next day, the swelling wasn’t as bad as we thought,” DeBoer said. “He’s seeing the dentist today, and going to have some dental work done. But, I think the initial prognosis is that we feel pretty fortunate that with the amount of damage compared to what it could have been.”

Joe Pavelski said that he’s “not a doctor,” but that he expects Couture back in the Sharks’ lineup "at some point."

“Oh, yeah. I don’t think that’s even not a consideration,” DeBoer said.

The Sharks have seven games remaining in the regular season, while the playoffs start in a little more than two weeks. Could Couture return before the postseason?

“I don’t know timeframe. He’s seeing the dentist today. We’ll see,” DeBoer said.

The Sharks are expected to offer an official update later on Monday.

Couture was set up just outside the crease in the third period of Saturday’s 7-2 loss in Nashville when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. He quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.

Couture’s father, Chet, said on Twitter that it was “an ugly injury sadly."

Sharks' Vlasic back at practice; Haley awaits punishment

Sharks' Vlasic back at practice; Haley awaits punishment

SAN JOSE – Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to practice on Monday after missing two of the Sharks’ four games on their recently completed road trip.

Vlasic did not play in Tuesday’s game in Minnesota or Saturday’s game in Nashville with the flu, and was spotted walking with a slight limp after Friday’s game in Dallas when he took just one shift in the third period before departing.

Not surprisingly, center Logan Couture was missing after he took a deflected puck to the mouth on Saturday in Nashville and will miss some time, although the team has yet to update his condition.

Joe Thornton was also not at practice, although he was likely taking a maintenance day. Micheel Haley skated as a placeholder on his line with Jannik Hansen and Joe Pavelski.

With Couture out, Patrick Marleau centered a line with Melker Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker. Chris Tierney was between Joonas Donskoi and Timo Meier, while Tomas Hertl skated with Marcus Sorensen and Joel Ward.

Haley was set to have a hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety on Monday for what the league called a “sucker punch” of Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday. News of his punishment is expected later in the day.