It didn't take long for the San Jose Sharks front office to get there top-four defenseman. Just a few days after trading for his rights, the Sharks signed defenseman Brad Stuart to a three-year deal worth 10.8 million dollars.
Stuart showed a desire to return to San Jose where his family still lives and the Detroit Red Wings granted his wish by trading his rights to the Sharks in exchange for forward Andrew Murray and a seventh-round draft pick in this years draft.
Stuart will bring some much needed physicality to the blue line and more Stanley Cup-winning experience to a team looking to get to that level.
The deal gives Stuart an average cap hit of about 3.6 million dollars a season. That puts him above Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Douglas Murray but below Dan Boyle and Brent Burns as far as cap hits for defenseman on the team go.
The resulting cap hits of those defenseman, thrown in with Jason Demers' 1.25 million, means someone will most likely be dealt from the group. That's too many dollars to be allocated to defenseman and a third-pairing defenseman shouldn't be making over two million dollars.
The cap crunch is magnified when looking at the Sharks' cap situation as a team.
As of right now the Sharks have about 11 million dollars in cap space left. That may seem like a lot but they also only have seven forwards signed for next season. At the minimum they need to sign six to seven more as well as another defenseman.
This again would foreshadow someone having to leave and most likely someone from the defense position where the Sharks seemingly now have the most depth on their team.
Stuart's signing makes the Sharks a better team for this season and moving forward. If they manage to swing a deal to clear more cap room so they can pursue other free agents or players through trade, then this signing will have set it all up. This will be the first of many predicted changes to the team's roster.
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