Brad Stuart has agreed to terms with the San Jose Sharks on a 3-year, $10.8M deal, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
The Sharks acquired the rights to negotiate with Stuart a little over a week ago and it didn’t take long for the deal to get done. The deal will pay the 12-year veteran defenseman $3.6M per over the next three years. This will make him the third-highest paid defenseman on the team in 2012 behind Dan Boyle ($6.667M) and Brent Burns ($4M), but just higher than Marc Edouard-Vlasic ($3.5M).
With Burns, Edouard-Vlasic and Boyle embedded in the top two defensive pairings – with Stuart probably joining them – Douglas Murray will likely become the odd man out. Murray, who will be earning $2.5M next year, would be an awfully expensive option to stick with in the upcoming season especially if the Sharks decide to go with a cheaper, more youthful third D-pairing by re-signing restricted free agent Justin Braun and going forward with Jason Demers ($1.25M in 2012). With that scenario, the Sharks may look to shop Murray in the near future; perhaps on draft day.
The initial Twittersphere reaction to this contract is that it’s a bit high. Only time will tell if Stuart can find a way to contribute to the team at his bank account’s level. He scored 6 goals and added 15 assists last season while averaging 21:03 TOI with a +/- ratio of 16 on the Red Wings. It’s important to remember, however, that he was playing alongside future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom during that span.
He certainly won’t have that kind of talent playing beside him next year. But if money talks, this contract is evidence that Doug Wilson has faith in what Stuart can bring to the club.