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.