Stay or Go, Part 2: Sharks defensemen

Stay or Go, Part 2: Sharks defensemen
May 13, 2014, 9:45 am
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Dan Boyle had a down year in 2013-2014, with 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points and a -8 rating. (USATSI)

Marc-Edouard Vlasic has 4 years remaining on his contract with a no-trade clause and 2014-15 cap hit of $4.25 million. (USATSI)

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After another playoff failure, general manager Doug Wilson has some difficult decisions to make regarding the Sharks' current roster, as the club showed once again that it is a very good team in the regular season but not good enough when the postseason rolls around.

So, who will stay and who will go? There’s no question the roster will look a bit different, maybe even very much so, by the time training camp begins in September.

All contract figures courtesy of CapGeek.com.

Part 2 – The defensemen

Jason Demers
Contract status: Pending restricted free agent

Demers rebounded to have the best regular season of his NHL career in 2013-14 before he struggled against the Kings in the playoffs, as his style of play didn’t seem to translate against Los Angeles. Still, with Dan Boyle unlikely to return, Demers is in line to get a decent raise from his $1.5 million salary, and the Sharks will have to hope he continues to improve with no more steps backwards.

Chances he returns: 85 percent

[RELATED: Stay or Go, Part 1 - Sharks forwards]

Brad Stuart
Contract status: 1 year remaining, limited no-trade clause
2014-15 cap hit: $3.6 million

It couldn’t have been an enjoyable year for Stuart, who played hurt for most of the season before finally taking time off after the Olympic break to recover from a summer injury. In Game 7 against the Kings, he was on the ice for two key goals against, capping an unproductive season. Missing from Stuart’s game were the thundering, game-changing hits that he’s known for, but Stuart is a leader and a warrior, so expect him to return to play out the final year of his contract.

Chances he returns: 80 percent

Dan Boyle
Contract status: Pending unrestricted free agent

Boyle has earned the right to cash in with one final big payday in the NHL, and it’s unlikely to be in San Jose. The right-handed shooting defensemen could command top dollar this offseason, and although Boyle had a down year, he’s still going to draw plenty of interest from other teams that will likely offer him that multiple-year deal he’s seeking. One of the best defensemen in the history of the franchise, replacing Boyle may be one of Wilson's top offseason priorities.

Chances he returns: 20 percent

Scott Hannan
Contract status: Pending unrestricted free agent

Hannan had a decent enough year, but his age and wear showed towards the end of it and in the postseason. It’s time for the Sharks to find out if they have NHL-caliber players in Matt Tennyson and Taylor Doherty, and maybe even make way for 2013 first round pick Mirco Mueller, so it seems very unlikely the Sharks will offer Hannan another deal.

Chances he returns: 10 percent

Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Contract status: 4 years remaining, no-trade clause
2014-15 cap hit: $4.25 million

It seems that Vlasic, who was a key part of Team Canada’s unreal defense at the Olympics, has finally earned the respect across North America as one of the best blueliners in the NHL. When he went down early in Game 5 against the Kings that arguably sealed the Sharks’ fate, as the rest of the defense was unable to cope with losing the steady and responsible 27-year-old.

Chances he returns: 99 percent

Matt Irwin
Contract status: 1 year remaining
2014-15 cap hit: $1 million

Irwin was the odd man out on the blue line for most of the first round loss against Los Angeles, only getting in when Vlasic got hurt. He has a knack for getting shots through from the point, but could still improve on his overall defense and decision-making. Still, Irwin’s salary for next season is very affordable for what he brings, and it’s easy to forget 2013-14 was still just his first full season in the NHL.

Chances he returns: 85 percent

Justin Braun
Contract status: 1 year remaining
2014-15 cap hit: $1.25 million

Other than Vlasic, Braun was the Sharks’ most reliable defenseman on a nightly basis, and should be in line for a nice contract extension this summer. Braun struggled late in the series against Los Angeles with just one assist and a -5 rating over the last four games, but he may have been playing hurt after getting banged up in Game 4 at Staples Center.

Chances he returns: 95 percent