Stuart trade could create crowded defenseman corps

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Stuart trade could create crowded defenseman corps

Brad Stuart said although he gave his everything to the Red Wings franchise in the last several years, being closer to family in San Jose was a frequent thought in the back of his mind. The 32-year-old defenseman comes one step closer to officially being a Shark (again), now that the team that drafted him has acquired first rights to sign him before the July 1st free agency period begins.
Stuart made it quite clear that being in the same city as his wife and children would make life much easier for both he, and them. This is something which has been publicized and well documented in national media circles during the last several months. But he also expanded that playing for a contenting franchise, such as the Sharks, and reaching a mutually desirable contractual agreement were also of high priority.
Why this way?Some wonder why: if the Sharks wanted Stuart (as they did), and Stuart wanted to play for the Sharks (as he does), then why not wait until the July 1st deadline to "officially" strike the deal? Why make a trade today? In this case, San Jose GM Doug Wilson is being proactive, getting the guess-work out of the process while he has time in the next three weeks.
In essence, Wilson can go into the free agency window knowing plainly if he has, or doesn't have Stuart inked... and most importantly, for how much. Getting his "ducks in a row" will help Wilson in the rest of his negotiations with other teams and players. Regardless, it seems highly likely the Sharks and Stuart will reach terms, with the defenseman saying he'd "like to" and that it would be great if San Jose were the "final destination" in his playing career.
Learning from LidstromStuart was asked to compare his own game now to the kind of player he was leaving San Jose, in the trade for current captain Joe Thornton. Stuart stated his biggest change is focus, in that he has progressively gotten away from being an offensive-minded defenseman, who now takes the most pride in "being physical and effective."

Also brought up in conversation was the experience Stuart had in sharing a blue line with 7-time Norris Trophy winner, Nicklas Lidstrom during the last several seasons. Stuart was anything but short on words in complimenting the Swedish defenseman, who just two weeks ago, announced his retirement. Stuart said he hopes he can share what he learned and set an example for the younger players on San Jose's roster.
What does the move mean?Assuming all goes as planned in the next few weeks with Sunday's transaction, the Sharks would have the following defensemen under contract:- Brad Stuart- Dan Boyle- Brent Burns- Marc Edouard Vlasic- Douglas Murray- Jason Demers- Justin Braun (Restricted Free Agent, highly likely to be re-signed)
Jim Vandermeer and Colin White are set to become unrestricted free agents, whose status in returning are currently unknown. This does also not leave much room for other acquisitions, or internal defensive promotions through the pipeline. Essentially the boat for defenseman in San Jose was already a little crowded, and just took on another body. How it will play out from now until training camp should be interesting.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”