Sharks

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 win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.

As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect

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AP

As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect

When Joakim Ryan suits up in his first NHL road game against the New Jersey Devils Friday night, he’ll do so in a familiar place.

Ryan, a New Jersey-born Swede, played for the Devils’ youth program and nearby Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in high school. In fact, he’s already played at the Prudential Center, skating in the state championship game with CBA in 2009.

He’s not the only one due for something of a homecoming, as the Sharks may see a familiar face line up on the opposing blueline.

This is the Sharks’ first matchup against New Jersey since trading 2013 first round pick Mirco Mueller ahead of June’s Expansion Draft. Mueller was once considered the future on the San Jose blueline, a smooth-skating defenseman with size to boot.

The Swiss defender never fulfilled his potential, in part because his development was rushed from the start. He made the NHL roster as a rookie in 2014-15, almost by default. Other than Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the only defensemen ahead of him on left side of the depth chart were a far past-his-prime Scott Hannan and regular scratch Matt Irwin. Such was the nature of the Sharks’ “step back” that year.

Mueller finally got regular playing time, albeit in the minors, during his second professional season. By then, he was pushed down the organizational depth chart by the team’s acquisitions of Brenden Dillon and Roman Polak, and the development of Dylan DeMelo. David Schlemko’s signing last summer kept Mueller there for most of 2016-17, but it was Ryan and Tim Heed that ensured Mueller’s NHL future would lie elsewhere. The Swedes surpassed him, and emerged as perhaps the AHL’s best defensive pair in the process.

It’s fitting, then, that Ryan and Heed will be in the lineup tonight, and Mueller may not, as the fresh start he needed hasn’t quite panned out. He’s averaging a career-high 18:44 in ice time, but has been scratched in three of New Jersey’s seven games, including Thursday night’s overtime win in Ottawa.

So Ryan comes home to New Jersey under much happier circumstances than Mueller will reunite with the Sharks. One prodigal son returns, and the other is simply trying to save face.

It’s still early in his Devils tenure, of course, and Mueller may yet emerge as a regular on the New Jersey blueline. His Sharks reunion, though, will serve as a reminder of what once was, what could have been, and what is now San Jose’s future on defense.