San Jose Sharks Exhibit Foolishness in Brad Stuart Trade

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IJune 10, 2012

VANCOUVER - SEPTEMBER 23:  Brad Stuart #7 of the San Jose Sharks passes the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the NHL preseason game at General Motors Place on September 23, 2005 in Vancouver, Canada.  The Sharks defeated the Canucks 4-3.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

If anybody thought the Sharks would look toward the future and finally decide to rebuild their team and restock their farm system, they were sorely mistaken.

In some rare pre-July 1 trade action, the San Jose Sharks sent forward Andrew Murray and a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings for the rights to impending unrestricted free agent defenseman Brad Stuart (from the Detroit Free Press).

First of all, we need to laud Detroit GM Ken Holland for moving Stuart, who was unwilling to sign with any team not in California. The Red Wings were able to acquire a pick and a player who will see more likely than not be able to crack the fourth line in Detroit. Not a bad move considering there was no way Detroit was keeping Stuart. 

Well past his prime, Stuart has become noticeably slower and softer in his recent play with the Red Wings. On a San Jose Sharks roster, the 32-year-old defenseman—who was was the Sharks' third overall pick in the 1998 draft—will most likely be used in a bottom pairing role.

With Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Douglas Murray, Brent Burns and Jason Demers there seems little room for Stuart to be anything more than a fifth or sixth defenseman. 

After disappointing results in back-to-back Western Conference finals two and three years, ago the Sharks decided to take a new approach and trade star sniper Dany Heatley and skilled winger Devin Setoguchi for oft-injured Martin Havlat and Brent Burns, respectively.

The result?

A 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the St. Louis Blues—a completely forgettable series where the Sharks looked beat from the moment they stepped on to the ice, only winning the first game in double overtime.

With a depleted farm system and a lack of top-tier young talent outside of Logan Couture and Jason Demers, there were a lot of people who suspected the Sharks would finally trade the majority of the team and build a contender for the future.

With Sunday's trade, it was not to be.

The Sharks recommitted themselves to building around their aging core, hoping for one last shot at the Stanley Cup with a group that has proved they are simply not up to the task.