Brad Stuart Returns to San Jose
It's been nearly nine years since defenseman Brad Stuart was traded to Boston along with Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau for current Sharks Captain Joe Thorton. Now, in exchange for forward Andrew Murray and a conditional 2014 draft pick, San Jose will welcome back the 32 year old Alberta Native.
Stuart was originally drafted by San Jose 3rd overall in the 1998 draft, and immediately showed signs of a bright future. In his rookie session at age 20 he posted 10 goals and 26 points with a + 3 rating. His performance was good enough to earn him a spot on the 1999 NHL All-Rookie Team, and he finished second behind Scott Gomez in voting for The Calder Memorial Trophy. In total Stuart played 377 games as a Shark while scoring 153 points. Even after all these years he still ranks 3rd all time in goals amongst Sharks defensemen with 36.
During his years in Boston, Calgary, Los Angeles and Detroit Stuart's offensive production never reached the heights that it did in San Jose, but at 6-2 and 213 pounds his physical presence on the ice coupled with impressive defensive capability always proved to be of value to his team. Especially in the 08-09 season when he won The Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. This past year with Detroit, Stuart had 6 goals and 15 assists while earning a career high +16 rating.
Overall I think this is a good trade for San Jose, especially considering the fact that Andrew Murray had only 4 points in his 39 games as a Shark this season. You can't expect Stuart to have the kind of offensive performance he did in teal 9 years ago, but I still think he will be a valuable asset. His experience alone as a 13 year old veteran is enough to make him desirable, but it's his physical play that really catches my eye. Last season Stuart led the Red Wings in hits with 177 and was second in blocked shots with 115. To put that into perspective, he would have lead the Sharks in hits by 40 and fit in nicely with the four other San Jose defensemen that had over 100 blocked shots.
Even though I don't like to see an aging team like the Sharks trade away draft picks (you never know when you'll miss out on the next Pavel Datsyuk or Joe Pavelski) I think Brad Stuart will be a solid addition to San Jose's blueline. For a team with as much size as the Sharks had, they sure made a habit of being outhit this past season. I think Stuart may be just the guy to fix that. Not to mention the fact that he could be the perfect mentor for young defensemen like Jason Demers or Justin Braun. Expect this to be the first of many moves General Manager Doug Wilson will make for the Sharks this off season.