Defenseman Brad Stuart was the Sharks’ first draft pick, third overall, in the 1998 draft. Brad played five and a half seasons in San Jose, showing promise in both his defensive and offensive games. In his last full season with the Sharks (2003-2004), Stuart scored 39 points, but had no hits or blocks.
Then on November 30, 2005, Stuart, along with March Sturm and Wayne Primeau, were traded to Boston in exchange for Joe Thornton. While Jumbo Joe has stayed happily put in San Jose, Stuart bounced around. He played two partial seasons with Boston before making partial-season stints in Calgary and Los Angeles. He finally settled in Detroit, where he has played for the last five seasons.
But Brad’s family never left San Jose, and he requested a trade to a team closer to his home. So in June, San Jose acquired Brad’s rights, and he’s back where he started. He signed a three-year deal with an annual cap hit of $3.6 million. But where will Brad fit in, considering San Jose’s stacked blue line?
Brad Stuart packs a punch: Last season he had 177 hits (9th best in the NHL) and 115 blocks. His 22 takeaways and +16 are pretty impressive, too. He seems to be a pretty complete package, as he also put up 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) and played a solid 17:34 TOI average. And he’s consistent, too; he scored 20 points in both the ’10-’11 and ’09-’10 seasons, while putting up tons of hits (206 in ’09-’10. 206!!).
Considering Marc-Eduoard Vlasic and Brent Burns just signed long-term contract extensions, the most logical conclusion is that Stuart was brought in to replace Douglas Murray. They’re both the same age (32), and around the same size, Stuart at 6’2”, 213 pounds; Douglas at 6’3”, 240 pounds. Brad has consistently put up more points than Murray, and Brad has signed a three-year deal to stay in San Jose, but Douglas only has one season left on his before becoming an UFA.
Only time will tell if Murray will stick around the entire upcoming season, and who he ends up playing with. The Sharks’ blue line is versatile and allows for movement, so expect to see some juggling to figure out who works best with who. With five guys playing for four spots, it will be interesting to see who ends up on top.